What are they?
Transitions involve moving between activities or between one location and another. Students with ASD may struggle with transitions for several reasons: transitions can disrupt preferred activities, they may signal the start of non-preferred activities, the student may desire an understanding of what happens during transitions, and/or tasks are often left unfinished and the student may fear that they won’t gain access to it again. Transitions can additionally be challenging because they require a student to shift their attention to something else and because transition environments are often highly distracting (e.g. changing classes in high school hallway).
Transition strategies are tools that support an individual’s transition between activities or places by increasing predictability. Strategies can be used before, during, and/or after transitions, and are most often visual and portable.
Why are they important?
Strategies to support transitions are important to use when a student struggles with transitions for several reasons: they increase appropriate behaviour during transitions (i.e. transitions are less disruptive), they reduce adult prompting and promote independence, and they make transitions predictable and consistent, thereby less confusing and stressful, for the student.
Effective strategies are visual, portable, provide advance warning of the transition for the student, and are used across settings. Strategies should be age- and cognitively-appropriate for the student.
A transition strip can be used as a visual countdown to prepare students for an upcoming activity.
A visual schedule can be used in conjunction with a transition strip to show the student what activity is coming next.
Earles-Vollrath, T. L., Cook, K. T., & Ganz, J. B. (2006). How to develop and implement visual supports. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Feldman, J. (2009). Transition Tips and Tricks for Teachers. Beltsville: Gryphon House Inc.