Transitions involve a period of change and uncertainty that can be difficult to manage for all individuals, especially those with complex needs.  Transitions between activities occur frequently and can result in behavioral challenges that further hinder an individual’s ability to successfully shift away from, or to, another activity.  Transitions are part of environmental organization within The Center for Discovery®’s HealthE6™ Model. Here are some tips to help increase predictability, reduce anxiety, and prepare for an upcoming transition:

  • Transition warnings should be provided to cue that the current activity is ending. This can be a phrase, a bell or song, or dimming the lights.
  • Use a timer or countdown to express the passing of time and allow for adequate processing before the transition occurs. This allows time to finish the current activity and avoids rushing and frustration.
  • Provide a schedule to outline what is going to happen next and what will be expected. This can be a verbal conversation, written list, or picture sequence.  Using ‘FIRST/THEN’ language provides a clear description of the transition. When presenting less desirable tasks, follow with an activity that is rewarding, this will provide something to look forward to.
  • Use a transition area to prepare to exit a location such as lining up by the door or sitting on a designated bench.
  • Be prepared when the transition occurs. The destination should be clear and easy to navigate.  Unnecessary wait time will be reduced when materials are organized for the next activity.
  • Provide praise when transitions are complete! Recognizing a job well done will provide positive feedback to help reinforce appropriate behavior and smooth transitions.

Written by Katie Skinner, Behavior Specialist at The Center for Discovery®.

For more information about supporting our HealthE6 model, please contact Richard Humleker, Vice President of Development, at rhumleker@tcfd.org.