Transition includes change in teacher, change in room, change in students in the class not just starting preschool, school, high school and beyond. The nature of ASD is such that transition can be extremely stressful, no matter what age or how BIG or SMALL the change maybe.
Changing Teacher is like…. Moving to a Foreign Country
For the child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) moving to a new teacher, classroom or campus is like moving to foreign country. There is a different language (eg one teacher says ‘pack away’, new teacher says ‘clean up’). Teachers and other students have different facial expressions and body language to interpret, new rules, new schedules, new smells, different pencils just to mention a few changes. This new ‘foreign country’ causes the child to feel enormous anxiety and stress, which in turn can lead to behaviour. This anxiety and behaviour can be managed by effective planning and transition strategies.
This article aims to give you ideas, strategies and solutions to managing transition and have in place strategies ready to make 2017 a Success!
We need to consider all the changes and pre-warn the child. Many children with an ASD have a script in their minds for everything that happens in their day so it is very important with any change we offer a script to explain any changes in advance. This may include:
- Sensory/Environment: New sounds, movements, uniforms etc. For example with secondary students it is important they get to experience a busy locker area as part of transition. Too many people take them on a tour when no one is in the school.
- People: Who will be their teacher, assistant, which students will they know, who to go to for help, getting to know office staff, etc.
- Visuals: Map of the school with toilets, classroom, bags, office, library, etc.
- Video /Film on Ipad: Video of the new school, environment, and teachers is wonderful as they can play over and over. Make sure you show the environment HOW it actually looks; for example video of busy locker area, playground full of students rather than empty.
- Social Scripts/Photo Books: Create social scripts or photo books that show the child information. Many Asperger’s children need “reasons”: Why do I have to change teacher?, Why do we have to move classrooms? Why can’t I stay with my friends? You can create social scripts that explain this and they can refer back to.
- Photos: Class teacher, important staff, toilets, bubblers, etc.
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