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transitionsTransitions can be tough for everyone, but they can be especially challenging for people with special needs. Whether the transition is from one activity to another or a break in normal routine, both can be hard.

My Past Experience with Transitions
As an individual with autism I know just how hard transitions can be. When I was younger I struggled more with transitions, especially the ones that involved breaks in normal routine. Things such as school breaks, days off, etc. were very challenging for me. I would get very anxious, nervous and sometimes even upset.

Learning to Cope with Transitions
Now that I am older, transitions are still hard for me, but I have learned to use tools and strategies to help me cope better. These days I do not struggle much with transitions from activity to activity. I do however sometimes still struggle with transitions from my regular routine, such as school breaks. I am okay with the weekends, but other school breaks can be tough.

Although I now seem okay with transitions and less anxious, this is only because I use strategies and tools to get me to the point where I can cope and be successful. On the outside, one may not even know that transitions like going back to school after a break can cause me anxiety, yet I still dread it. I know in the end things will be okay, but it is a transition that can still be hard for me.

Tips for Transitions
Here are some tools that I use to help with transitions:

  • I write a social story on my [easyazon-link asin=”B0047DVWLW” locale=”us”]iPad[/easyazon-link] using i Create…Social Skills Stories app by I Get it, LLC, but there are many different apps that you can use to create social stories. I make sure that I:
    • use pictures;
    • write specific facts–things that usually remain constant and the same;
    • include exciting things, such as things that I can tell my class that I did over the break;
    • try to include what I am going to do the first day back at school after the break; and
    • include that I like school and will be happy to see my friends tomorrow.

Lately, I have not even needed to read the social story, just writing it has been enough. But if I need to look back at it, it is there.

  • I have a visual schedule app on my [easyazon-link asin=”B0047DVWLW” locale=”us”]iPad[/easyazon-link] that I sometimes use to help me the morning of a big transition. Again, making the schedule is usually enough for me, but it is there if I need to refer to it. I use Choiceworks, but there are many different apps out there that can help with scheduling.
  • I type to friends who understand. Thanks guys, I couldn’t do this without you all. 🙂
  • I try to keep as many things the same as I possibly can, so that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

The best tip that I can give you though, is to be PROACTIVE! Don’t wait until your child is struggling with a transition–have the material prepared, just in case. Also, don’t stop using the tools just because you think your child is okay. Even if they are not exhibiting noticeable behaviors or anxiety, the transition may still be hard for them; they are just able to cope better.