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Episode #046: How to Help Autistic Learners with Transitions with Dani LoVecchio
Do you ever walk into a new gym class and feel uneasy or nervous? If you do, you’re not unlike many kids who hesitate or resist transitions. Not all children with autism experience difficulty with transitions, but it is something many struggle with. In this interview with Dani LoVecchio from Bridge Kids of New York, we discuss tips and advice for making transitions smoother.
Whether it be starting a new school or service, being away from the caregiver for the first time, or smaller transitions throughout your child’s day, there are ways to make it better for the parent, professional, and the child.
Dani’s Tips for Smooth Transitions with Autistic Learners:
- Get prepared – What is the new transition? Start gathering all the information about this new place or activity and share it with your child. Expose them to the new faces and places they will see. Set positive expectations for the new transition.
- Utilize a visual schedule – A visual schedule can be different for every child. Some might just need a written schedule somewhere they can see. Others might need pictures or photos and a more detailed and personal schedule.
- Keep a comfort Item – Is there a stuffed animal, special picture, blanket, or toy that brings your child comfort? It is okay and even beneficial to let them bring this item into their new space.
- Practice time away – Time away can be scary for any parent, let alone a parent of a child with a disability. However, it is so important to prepare for separation that will take place during services and school by utilizing a well trusted and trained babysitter.
- Skip gradual introductions – Many centers and schools offer a slow or gradual introduction instead of jumping into 5 days a week. This can often create more stress and unknowns around the new transition and even take longer for the child to adapt. Go right to the full schedule to set a strong foundation.
Routines and schedules are great for kids, especially kids with autism. They teach the learner what to expect and to trust what will be next. However, we all know there is no such thing as perfect and life happens. As the child gets older, be sure to prepare them for flexibility and what to do when a schedule changes or a transition isn’t the same.
Dani and I also touched on communication between providers and parents. This is always so important but even more so when working on new transitions. Be sure to have a clear communication plan in place so as the parent or professional, you’re on the same page and continuing support.
Transitions are part of every single person’s day. They aren’t always big scary new ones, but they can feel that way to some autistic learners. I loved getting to talk to Dani today and hope you can put some of her great advice to use!
- What are transitions and what do they look like for autistic learners?
- Tips for easing transitions, big and small.
- Can you keep routines and still be flexible?
- Determining a communication system between parents and providers.
Dani LoVecchio is a dual licensed SLP BCBA who is co-owner of Bridge Kids New York in Manhattan, NY. She specializes in providing ABA and speech language therapy to children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband, three daughters and dog named Baxter.
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