Saturday, August 29, 2015

Problems with Transitions

Difficulty with transitions from one activity to the next is a common problem for some children with special needs. If you struggle when is time to turn the TV off or going to bed, you are not alone.

A variety of antecedent-based interventions have been evaluated to address problem behavior that occurs during transitions. For example, providing advance notice of an upcoming change in tasks (i.e., a 2-min warning) decreased transition related challenging behaviors.

Visual prompts, often in the form of visual schedules, are commonly recommended to aid with transitions for children with autism. However, studies suggest that if the behavior is maintained by avoidance of non-preferred activities, access to preferred activities/items, or escape from the transition, visual schedules alone, a commonly recommended intervention, may not produce decreases in transition-related problem behavior unless extinction (not allowing access to reinforcement) is also used.

The importance of identifying the function of problem behavior that is occasioned by transitions and developing treatments based on these results is commonly overlooked in recommendations to parents and teachers regarding the use of visual schedules.

The combination of visual schedules and a function-based intervention for problem behavior that occurred during transitions appear to be the most effective intervention.

Try this at home. When is time to turn off the TV, to stop playing in the computer or to go to bed use a visual schedule before the preferred and when you prime your child (“Remember, in 5 minutes…., in 3 minutes…, etc.). Also, make the preferred activities contingent on preferred ones. “When you finish your homework, you can watch TV.”

Another recommendation is to make the non-preferred activity motivating by adding some fun (i.e. make it a race, include motivating items and activities, sing a song).

And be consistent. Follow the same routine, like teachers do in the classrooms. Not only the activities, but times and the way the activity is performed. For example, standing in line before going to recess, or cleaning up desks before free time. Kids do much better when they follow a predictable routine. We all do.


Daniel Adatto




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