Autism Transition Let's Break It Down

Hey, hey! I thought we would talk transitions today with The Ultimate Autism Transition Guide and just an FYI……I’m throwing in a twist, so be ready!

What exactly is a transition and why should you care? Transition is a fancy pants word for change. Moving from this activity to a new one.

What we know about kids with autism is that change can cause them to ride the struggle bus and maybe even drive that baby into a ditch. Now I’ve done some research on the why factor, but instead of talking about why they hate change, let’s turn it around a little and talk about why kids with autism like routine.

Routine is the stuff that safety is made of. Each daily routine is a block in the foundation of their lives.

Safe, solid, and reliable.

Kids with autism are overloaded by sensory input, noise, crowds, sound, etc… and that overload creates anxiety.

The most reliable way to keep anxiety back is to stick close to what is familiar.

Walk On Ground, Breathe Air

While I was still teaching special education in high school, teachers wrote transition plans for juniors and seniors that prepared them for goals after graduation.

I met with each of my students and asked them to make 2 goals for after graduation and of course, these goals were changeable. (No pressure). The interview I remember the most was a girl with Aspbergers in her senior year. When I asked her about her 2 goals her response was:

1. Walk on ground.

2. Breathe air.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Those teenagers and their attitudes………I know.

But here’s the thing. This was about 9 years ago and here I am putting it in a blog post. It stuck with me.

Change is scary. When we have to move away from one thing we know regardless of how much we are ready to leave ie….high school, we hold on tightly to what is left. Let’s be honest, walking on ground and breathing air, however basic, are always with us.

Formula 3

Three things you need to make autism transition easier are:

  1. routine
  2. countdown
  3. sensory break


We discussed this one earlier. Here are some everyday examples:

  • Morning wake up

  • Bedtime

  • Personal time

  • TV, Video games

  • School and homework

  • Clean up and chores

  • Sports and hobbies

  • Bedtime

  • Social media   


Countdowns are what I call reminders. Ways to communicate that change is near. For example:

  • Countdown clocks-Set the clock for a visual of how much time remains before a change

  • Post-it notes-Place reminder notes of upcoming events

  • Social story-Short personal stories that explain a specific event

  • Daily calendars-Daily calendar page with visual schedule of days activities

Sensory Breaks

These are movement breaks that build up muscle groups and increase proprioception (where your body is spatially) which is often underdeveloped in kids with autism.

  • Squeeze Play Dough

  • Chew Gum    

  • Lift Weights

  • Shovel snow, rake leaves

  • Mop, sweep, vacuum

  • Wall Pushes

  • Dance Party

Put Them Together With A Twist

Remember the twist I mentioned? YouTube offers a free channel. You or your kid can go on YouTube and make your own social stories. Need an idea of what a story is or how to create one? NP. Here’s one of many you could try from the blog Down’s Syndrome With A Slice of Autism.

For more free resources I have written a new guide called The Ultimate Autism Transition Guide


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