Students who are diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome frequently deal with anxiety when there are changes in routine, at home or school. This is because this syndrome influences the frontal lobes of the brain, which controls executive functioning. Executive functioning controls the ability to alter one’s mental mindset, or transition from one task or place to another. This area of the brain also sends a message to wait. Today, I am going to share some suggestions that will help prepare these children for transitions.
When a student struggles with transitions between activities due to anxiety related to changes in routine, this can sometimes lead to tantrums and emotional meltdowns. Here are several techniques that can help transitions go more smoothly for autism and Asperger’s students.
· Timers can also be helpful when dealing with transitions. The timer is set, giving the student a visual of how much time is left until their present activity has to end.
· Picture Charts/Visual Schedules- A chart that plainly show each activity that occurs during the school day. It is best to have an individual picture for each task or activity. These pictures can be attached or removed by using Velco. Every time a task ends, the picture can be removed. It can be easier for the students to deal with transition if preferred and non-preferred activities are alternated.
· Verbal prompts- these work with will older students who understand the concept of time. For example, as statement such as "Reading ends in five minutes, then it will be time for lunch." Student should be informed when an unpredictable events like a fire drill or assembly can is to take place. Such activities can be added to the visual schedule, or the teacher can write the information about the event on the board.
· Natural ending times- provide reminders that a transition is eminent. For example, "when the classroom lesion is over, it's time for us to get ready for lunch."
Try some of these strategies and be willing to work with the unique needs of these students when it comes to transitions.
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