Transitioning during the holiday season

Before I write about how to help your child with transitioning during the holiday season I would like to explain a few things for clarity purposes.

Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder battle with generalization …  They don’t necessarily understand that you can do the same things in different places an e.g. of this would be a child that is fully potty trained at school/home but has accidents in other places or a child that will only eat his/her food when dished up on the same plate/bowl.

Another factor to take into consideration with transitioning is that people with autism can get very anxious when they do not know what is expected of them and/or what something is.  This can often be seen when presented with a new toy or when going to a place they have not seen before.  More often than not the child would rather ignore the new toy than try and play with it or they would have a “meltdown” at the entrance of a new place.

So here goes TIP 2 for the holiday season:  help your child transitions and allow time for adjustment into a new environment:

Preparing a child with an ASD for a new activity or for change in his/her routine will go a long way in helping that person cope with the holidays!

Talking about an activity like going to the beach before the actual event.  Showing the child pictures of the beach or installing an appropriate app on his/her Ipad can all help the preparation process?

Using Visuals when transitioning from one activity to the next is also very useful.  Use the 1st and then rule e.g.  show a picture of the car and then a picture of the shopping centre to the child and say.  1st we are going in the car and then we are going to the shopping centre.  Once inside the centre use visuals to help the child understand what the next activity will be e.g. 1st we go to the wimpy (show a picture if possible) and then we go to the toy shop.

This all sounds very complicated but it really does not need to be.  Take pictures of places on your phone and show those to your child when ever possible.  Go onto the internet Google pictures and save them onto your smart-device is another option.

Another great way to help with transitioning during the festive season is to gear yourself up with a bag of goodies that you know your child will enjoy and make sure to take some “familiar” items with you when you go into “unfamiliar” places.

Allow for “transitioning” time between activities for e.g. when you go to the beach spend a few minutes in the car with the child so that the child can get used to his/her new environment.  This will also be easier when you take a familiar item with you (like a doll, car, pictures or a favourite toy).

Our last bit of advice would be a pre-visit visit…  If an when possible take your child to the place prior to having to go there.  Start with a short 5 minute visit and then take the child for longer periods of time.

Our next blog will be about positive re-enforcement and the use of this method during the holiday season….

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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.