Akron ABA therapy

Akron ABA Therapy Tips on Planning for Tough Transitions

Let’s face it: Change is hard for all of us sometimes. But transitions from one thing to the next can be especially challenging for children with conditions like autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, ODD and others. Our Akron ABA therapy team has some tips for helping kids move successfully from one activity to another in various settings throughout the day.

Why are Transitions So Tough for Some Kids? 

Transitions occur naturally – and often – at home, school and on the job. They are any kind of disruption to a person’s activity, setting or routine that requires that person to stop the activity in which they’re engaged, move to another location and start a new task. This is especially difficult if it’s time to move from a preferred task to a non-preferred task.

All kids will have a tough time with this occasionally, but children with autism really struggle because of their unique need for routine and predictability. It’s exacerbated by the fact that they may have receptive language issues that make it more challenging for them to understand what is about to happen, what is happening and why. They may struggle to understand the verbal explanations and directions. They may have trouble sequencing the information and the steps of the activity, leaving them feeling unprepared to move on. Combine this with the restrictive behavior patterns and higher anxiety levels of many kids on the spectrum, and transitions can quickly equal meltdowns.

The good news is that our Akron ABA therapy team can teach you strategies that will help you predict possible triggers, prepare your child for the transition and help these processes go much more smoothly. When transition strategies are effective, kids are able to:

  • Reduce the amount of time between transitions.
  • Rely less heavily on prompting by adults.
  • Participate with greater success in academics and activities of daily living.

Research has shown that many kids can spend up to a quarter of their day in some type of transition (getting out of bed and ready for school and traveling to school, switching classrooms, preparing for meals, changing activities, gathering materials, cleaning up, etc.). Some are more difficult than others, but the easier you can make them, the better quality of life and success your child will have.

When behavior therapists and technicians study the ABCs (antecedent, behavior and consequence), we can help parents plan for interventions before, during and after a transition to increase predictability and create routines that are more positive. Often, these use visual as well as audible cues.

Akron ABA Therapy Transition Tips

Some of our top transition strategies for kids include:

  • Simple verbal cues. This may sound reductive, but verbal warnings of an upcoming transition can sometimes go a long way. “In five minutes, we brush your teeth.” “Two minutes until we leave for school.” Lots of elementary school teachers do this anyway, and sometimes, it’s not enough, especially if the child has receptive language issues.
  • Visual timers. These are timers that allow the child to “see” the amount of time that remains before they need to move on to the next activity, location or event. This can be important because the concept of “a few minutes” may be very abstract to a child – especially when we use non-literal figures of speech like “just a second.” Visual timers help make those directives more meaningful, particularly if they haven’t mastered time-telling.
  • Visual calendars. These are used to help children find predictability and understand the sequencing of regular routines. Visual schedules can be used at home, in the classroom and during therapy sessions. They can span an entire day or smaller chunks of time. Many studies have indicated that having visual schedules at home and in school can reduce transition time and challenging behaviors and help improve independence. Along these same lines are transition cards. These help with smaller transitions and typically use “first/then” language.

This list isn’t exhaustive. Our Akron ABA therapy team is prepared to help each of our patients develop effective transition strategies that will work best for them and their families.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides ABA therapy to children in Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights, Akron and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, homeschooling, alternative schooling, virtual therapy and education, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Move Successfully from One Activity to Another, By Kara Hume, P.h.D., Indiana Resource Center for Autism

More Blog Entries:

What is a Parent’s Role in Akron ABA Therapy? Aug. 7, 2020, Akron ABA Therapy Blog