Transitions are often a major challenge for those with Asperger's. I witness this first hand with my nine year old son and see the amount of stress and anxiety he endures when he faces change. For example, this past Christmas break he enjoyed two quiet weeks at home mainly playing with his new toys, one play date, and a couple of family gatherings. For the most part his social interactions were limited and kept to small groups or one on ones. All of this came to an end after the first week of January and he returned back to school. The transition back to school was difficult for him and resulted in a minor melt-down. His senses were on overload, especially his audio with frequent requests to turn the car radio off that was barely loud enough to hear in the first place. His stomach was unsettled for a good week as well. His teacher commented that the first week back was a struggle for him. He had had great success at school with regards to his social development for the month of December. I guess two steps forward and one step back in this case. Most of us do not like change, but for those with Asperger's Syndrome that can be a huge understatement. I guess the final message I am trying to drive home is firstly, anticipate the struggle your child/student may have when a transition is ahead. Give them lot's of warnings and instructions for the forthcoming change. Show some compassion and understanding for this period as you know it is only temporary as your child/student adapts to the new routine. Half way through the second week back to school things seemed to have balanced out and my son appears to have settled back into his school routine and all the social challenges involved for a child with Asperger's syndrome. Transitions can be events like the one I mentioned above to less complex situations such as changing class rooms for the next subject at school. It's important to remember, the actions of one child with Asperger's will seldom be the same for the next Asperger child as many will handle transitions differently than others.
Some strategies you can adopt to help your child/student with Asperger's syndrome and coping with transitions include:
- Lot's of warnings about the upcoming change.
- You could act out or role play the upcoming event.
- Visual aids such as a daily schedule at the child's desk.
- A timer so they can countdown and prepare for the next event.
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