Many students, both with diagnosed disabilities and without, struggle with transition. We often see this in school when students start a new year and they are adjusting to a new situation or when they go home for a long holiday break and have to adjust back into the school routine. Sometime the anxiety and confusion caused by these times of transition can create challenging behaviors. These behaviors may seem defiant or disrespectful and once they occur in the school setting they must be addressed. This often leads to punishment that the student doesn’t understand or respond too.
In an effort to head off some challenging behaviors in the classroom or at home consider looking into transitional strategies to help during times when the students schedule will change.
1. Calendar-Many parents of Autistic students keep a calendar to review with their child every day. This calendar will have days that school will not be held as well as appointments or family events. They review it at the same time everyday. By making this calendar part of your daily routine, your child will get use to the pre-warning of change. (This works for ANY child who struggles with change.)
2. Visual Schedules- Some students require a visual schedule to be successful both at school and at home. The student would have a schedule of their day with pictures of each activity and as they go through activities they would remove the pictures. This is can go from home to school and can help with everyday transitions like, coming to school and going to lunch.
3. Timers- Some students need a pre-warning before they change activities. Especially activities they are working on independently. A timer can be of great use. Set the time and pre-warn the child that in 5 min* they will change activities. This also works well at home if you want to transition from computer, TV or outside time. (*The amount of pre-warning time may vary from kid to kid based on need.)
4. Count down– As students go home for long breaks, like Christmas, it is important for them to remember that they will come back to school. You can create a count down to monitor daily. This can be done on the computer or it can be part of you calendar. Also as something special, if your school would help, give Christmas cards to teachers to fill out. One for every day the child will be out of school. EX: If you are out for 14 days, then 14 different people will write a simple card. “Merry Christmas, hope you are having a great break. See you in 14 days.” The child will open a new card everyday and the cards will count down until the last card says “see you tomorrow”.
These are a few of the most common transitional strategies. If you have a student or a child who struggles with transition check into strategies that can help them be more successful. If you wait until after the transition then you may see an increase in challenging behaviors that can be hard to handle.
Check out these web sites for more ideas: