Managing transitions and autism

I’ve been kicked, bitten, yelled at, endured loud crying and been hated on because of poorly managed transitions at home. They are major pain points for us, everyday of the week. But as adults we’ve gotten better at managing transitions and autism for our children.

What a bad transition looks like

A bad transition between activities has some common features.

Bad transitions often occur when:

  • it is often time pressured. Just thinking about the rush out the door in the morning when trying to get to school on time. The more you hassle, the worse it gets.
  • the transition if involves getting off screens. Screens (TV, videos, tablet, gaming) are so engaging and addictive and this makes it difficult to transition away from.
  • there’s no interesting activity to transition to.
  • there is no advance warning that the transition is going to occur.
more gaming. more gaming.
managing transitions is tricky.

What a better transition looks like

A more successful transition between activities often includes:

  • advance warning through the use of a timer counting down, or multiple verbal warnings when the time is almost up. e.g. there’s 2 minutes left. we’re leaving in 10 minutes. Our children both have fitbit-style watches so they often get asked to set their own timer for 5 minutes to support the transition.
  • having another activity ready to go. Have a snack or drink for eating, or a fun/favourite book or game to play that they can transition to straight away.
  • an incentive. It’s terrible, but a small square of dark chocolate is sometimes used as a lure to get our kids to move to the bath (a non favoured activity)
  • a time limit on the previous activity. Using a daily schedule, or a visible timer on a watch/phone so it’s clear when the time for that activity is over.

Other hints for managing transitions and autism

  • Parental locks and low batteries: Particularly useful for limiting the use of electronic devices. Using parental locks with daily time limits can help support transitions away from electronics. A friend would never charge the family tablet more than 25%. This automatically limited the time that kids could spend on the device before it stopped working and had to go away. Sneaky!
  • If – then agreements: We have an agreement that there’s no TV in the mornings until the kids have had breakfast and gotten dressed. If you’re not dressed, then there’s no TV.
  • Body contact: A big hug, pat on the back, or gentle guidance moving away with your body can help our kids co-regulate. Co-regulation of their strong disappointed emotions when transitioning away from a favoured activity like gaming is important.

Oh hi there superstar 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to the Capybara Crew to get 10% off, and go in the draw for a free planner- there's a winner every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top