Does anyone have a hard time with transitions?  “A transition is a short-term life change characterized by a sharp discontinuity with the past.”  You can read all about it here

I know I have a hard time with them…but our son, Andrew, who has Autism, has a horrendous time with transitions.  Not just huge life changing ones, but little ones too, like moving from one activity to another in school.

This summer has been one HUGE transition for our Andrew, and thus, he’s had some behavioural and emotional issues cropping up.  Another transition is coming for him on Tuesday.  Not only is he starting in a new school, but he is also entering Grade One.  He goes from being in school for about 2.5 hours, to going all day from 8:20 am to 2:40pm and he will be staying at school for lunch.  Andrew will be expected to sit for longer periods of time, at a desk.  It’s going to be a large source of stress.

We’ve seen some often disturbing behaviours of late.  The most concerning to us is the self-injury (he will try and hurt himself by hitting himself, squeezing very hard, etc)  and the self-depreciating remarks (I hate myself, no one likes me).  We are sure it’s his way of getting attention.  We’ve been trying to ignore the behaviour and most of the time it works, but not always.  It’s escalated in the last day or so…we went and met his Teacher and new Teaching Assistant on Tuesday.  We know it’s his way of dealing with the stress of it all.  If it continues, we’ll be talking with the doctor to see what avenues we should take.  We try and get him to verbalize (he’s very verbal) how he’s feeling, but I think it’s quite difficult for him to put into words why he’s so agitated.  I know I get stressed out with change, so I can just imaging how bad it is for my beautiful 6 year old. 

Andrew will often tantrum about every little thing when he’s like this.  We generally remove him from the situation and have him have some “quiet time” on the stairs or in his room until he can calm down.  We’ve had him in his room a lot during the last few days, LOL.

Why am I sharing this with you all?  Well, I am hoping that someone out there might have some ideas for coping strategies for us and for Andrew.  Some of his comments are really bothering me, and I cannot get him to see that he’s loved and wanted and that we like him, we just don’t like the behaviour he’s exhibiting.  He’s always been a bright, happy, little boy and lately, well, not as much.  Any advice, or comments, would be appreciated.


7 responses to “Transitions…

  1. The one thing that helps us the most with G is to write out what is going to happen. For example, in school we have the teacher give us the daily schedule which we print out so he can review it in the car and has it in hand all day. He checks off what has occurred and can see what is coming up next. It has really reduced the daily anxiety and helps get him into his routine-based comfort zone. During the summer we’ve come up with a schedule or list of activities we’re going to do to help him when he’s feeling out of control. You can designate reading time, video game time, lunch time, grocery shopping, etc. Maybe that will help restore some order in his life?

    When it comes to a huge transition like moving, I think you just have to ride it out. (we’re looking at moving in the next 2 years ourselves, and while it’s necessary, I’m dreading it) G only calms when he’s alone so I understand what you mean when you say Andrew is in his room a lot – we’ve been there!

  2. I’m definitely no expert, but what about some kind of artistic expression? Although I suspect you’re doing this already…

  3. Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time.

    I used to work with people with developmental disabilities. One particular child was autistic. For the more shorter transitions, we’d use to give him a warning that it was coming. We also gave him a schedule and routine. For his new school, I’d bring stuff in his school bag for him to play with which might calm him down/distract him. Unfortunately though, as the poster mentioned above, you might have to ride out with the new move.

  4. I agree with lynnes. A checklist is a good idea. I have also seen first-then schedules and you can make them with PECS. Laminate velcro/magnet them and reuse them. Also giving lots of verbal updates as to when something is going to happen (i.e. we are going to go outside in 10 minutes, we are going to go outside in 5 minutes, you have one more minute before we go outside, now it’s time to go outside).

  5. Oh yah, how did the first couple of days of school go for all of the kids?

    • Thank you Everyone!!

      Lynnes – Thanks for your insight, it’s so appreciated. I love the checklist idea

      Shoeboxdweller – We haven’t tried that yet…he colours all the time, but I think we should ask him to maybe draw what he’s feeling.

      Pear – we do all those things, but I think you and Lynnes are right, we will have to ride through the whole moving thing

      GMC- Thanks for your input and thanks for asking about the first couple of days. His TA (which she’s actually not…she has a specific title educational something facilitator…lol ) is absolutely, positively, fantastic! She has honed in on his love of all things Pokémon, she has a Pikachu toy that he can hold on the carpet…she’s also made some PECS cards with “Ash’s coping strategies” (for those not familiar with Pokémon, Ash is a trainer and the main character) that he uses…incorporates some of the Pokémon. His main thing is that he gets anxious. So, so far, so good with school!

  6. That’s so awesome she is making it all about Pokemon 🙂 Definitely will catch his interest now. Just as a side, have you ever seen the show Parenthood? There is a little boy with Asperger’s on that show and it’s neat to see the interaction between the boy and his therapist.

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