Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Help Children With Autism Make Transitions

Autism has been classified as a neural development disorder and developmental disability that is characterized by repetitive and restricted behavior patterns as well as impaired communication and social skills. One of the more critical aspects of the disorder that parents of children with Autism are confronted with is transitioning from activity or task to another. The autistic child has a great deal of difficulty with this as it creates anger and confusion for them which oftentimes results in them throwing some hideous tantrums.

Consider the following 6 suggestions for helping your autistic child through these transitions so that it goes as smoothly as possible:

Always plan ahead - make sure that you always have the alarm, hourglass, or timer set up in advance so there is no confusion. You should always insist on consistency whenever babysitters, family members, teachers, or therapists are watching your child. This helps the child to understand the concept better.

Children with Autism need consistency - by using the same amount of warning time and words consistently, the child will have an easier time of adjusting to and understanding the transitions from one activity to the next. The child will also transition easier once they understand exactly what you expect of them.

Employ the reward system - making the transition from the current activity to the next one is extremely difficult for children with Autism. Offer the child some sort of incentive or reward for making a smooth transition between the activities that are on the day's agenda. The reward could be as simple as a favorite activity or one of their favorite foods.

Evaluate difficult situations - if you notice that there is a certain degree of difficulty involving the transition from one activity to the next, you can avoid any major problems (e.g. temper tantrums) by first evaluating the circumstances surrounding the transition. An example of this is a child's refusal or resistance to transitioning between activities due to certain sensory issues that upset the child. Simple accommodations or adjustments can help to correct this.

Invest in a timer if you don't have one - make sure that you purchase one that your autistic child will have an easier time of understanding when they should change the activity they are engaged in. If the child is younger an hourglass or sand timer may be easier for them to comprehend whereas an older child might be able to handle a digital clock alarm.

Respect the child's need for being warned - it is extremely difficult for children with Autism to move from one activity to the next especially if they are deeply engaged in the current activity. It's going to take a considerable amount of time and all the patience you can muster to teach them how to transition between activities. If you gently warn them that a change is coming, it will make it easier for the child to make that transition.

Remember that the goal here is to not only make transitioning easier for any children with Autism but to make them understand why it is necessary as well. Things will go a lot smoother for you overall.

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