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Guest Blog: Helping Children with Autism Deal with Transitions - featured November 21, 2011

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Guest Blog: Helping Children with Autism Deal with Transitions

By: Dr. Anne Zachry

Reprinted with the express permission of the author as it originally appeared on her blog Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips, October 12, 2011


Autism is a term that describes a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). “The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders” (Autism Speaks Website).

It is estimated that one child in every 110 will be diagnosed with Autism, with the diagnosis being 3 to 4 times more common in boys than girls. A large number of Autistic students are referred for school occupational therapy services. I have discovered a number of techniques that are quite effective when working with these students and I'm going to be sharing some of them with you.

One area that can be particularly challenging for Autistic students is dealing with transitions, especially unexpected transitions. One way to help an child with autism work through a transition is to use cards like these:

[Image: golights.JPG]

I made these cards out of construction paper, then laminated them. The red one says "Stop", the yellow says "1 minute", and the green says "Go". When the student begins an activity, I give the student the "Go" card, signaling that there is plenty of time to work on the activity. When it's almost time for a transition, I remove the green card, then hand over the yellow card. This means that there is "One Minute" left until the activity must end. After one minute, I remove the yellow card and hand the child the red card and say it's time to "Stop". This is a great way to help a child deal with transitions because it provides a visual as well as a tangible item that can be held and manipulated. If you work with a child that has a difficult time with transitions, you may want to give this strategy a try!

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Tags: Article Autism OT Newsletter 25 October 2011