Summer means wonderful things – sunshine, free time, ice cream; but it also means tricky transitions for many kids. The move from a structured school day to a less structured camp, home, or community environment can be hard to navigate. The following strategies are helpful to help kids for transitioning to new settings and between activities.
Social stories are personalized stories that present a situation and the likely occurrences that may happen before, during, and after a situation. This helps kids with executive dysfunction, anxiety, ADHD, and autism better predict and understand the context of situations, helping them transition and adjust more easily. We can tie the use of social stories with the use of social thinking language by continuing to model what is “expected” and “unexpected” for any given situation. Occupational Therapists can work with you to create a social story for any tricky situation.
New routines, new places, and new activities might make some of our kiddos nervous! Wanting comfort from a familiar person or place is not uncommon. Parents can try giving their children transitional objects to represent home or the parent when children go through stressful transitions, such as a shirt, a bracelet, or a stuffed animal.
Much like a social story, a visual schedule can help mitigate the expectations for your child. They can easily see what is coming next, and therefore, it decreases the amount of unexpected transitions they experience in a day. We recommend the app Choiceworks.
Choiceworks is a great application for visual schedules. Once an activity is completed, the child has the ability to check it off, and there is visual and auditory feedback. The application also gives parents the opportunity to have the child work toward a reward. There is clip art in the system, but the app also gives parents the opportunity to upload their own voice and their own photos. This is great for nighttime and morning routines as well as new schedules as children adjust for the summer.
There is a reason Barney had a clean-up song! Transition songs are a fun way to engage your child to prepare them for moving from a semi-preferred or a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity. As adults, we can make them up for almost anything!