Transitions And The Need For Clarity
The need for clear boundaries in moving from one place to another is very important for an autistic person.
For me it’s of paramount important that I know exactly what will be happening, with whom, when and how.
If you as a neurotypical reader can imagine complete uncertainty mixed with anxiety, you are maybe a quarter of the way there with a little understanding of how it feels not to know what’s happening.
Before I realised my son was neurologically different I would get him up for nursery and get him dressed. I would speak to him, ask what would he like for breakfast and talk about what he may do that day.
But I never broke it down into chunks.
That’s not something that comes naturally when you do not have an autistic child.
Or should I say when you do not KNOW you HAVE an autistic child.
We would get nearer to leaving for nursery, I would say that when the show he’s watching is finished we should leave. I would put the TV off and pandemonium would ensue.
Why? I had warned it was going off, I didn’t get it.
If I had only known then what I hope will help you now!
Visual timetables are worth gold dust!
A simple strip of Velcro on the wall with small simple pictures to stick on to it would have helped so much.
A picture symbolising breakfast, getting washed and dressed and putting on his shoes would have shown him clearly what was happening.
Our children do not always process verbally what is being said, so visuals work very well.
A picture showing the TV going off and another with his coat would have helped him transition that he was going out.
One last picture of his nursery would take away the last of the anxiety.
These also work well for trips, planned events and journeys.
What also would have helped was a visual timers.
There are many kinds, our favourite is sand timers. They are restful to look at and show the time going clearly. You can get them in different durations, 1 minute, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 60 minutes all in different colours.
These demonstrate that when the sand is gone it’s time to get dressed/ get ready to go out/ start getting ready for bed or finish up playing a game.
For me my calendar as a visual timetable is invaluable. I know what I am doing most days but to look and see it written there is both reassuring and helps me transition to the idea.
It aids my mental transition.
Both these things will greatly help you’re child in preparing them for getting ready fir something or for something ending.
If you let them have a time limit Ie:
“ We will be in here no longer then 30 minutes,” for a supermarket trip.
Always set your child’s hand held stop watch ten minutes longer then you think you will need in case of long queues or seeing someone who insists on starting a conversation.
A good way to help you’re child cope in a loud bright and crowded environment like a supermarket is a fiddle toy, ear defenders or ear phones with music set to a volume that they can still hear you.
Tinted lenses glasses if light sensitive, and to keep them occupied a shopping list.
This can be a visual list if need be with at least five items on for them to look for.
I would keep these items as fruit or vegetables, not something that’s packaged.
If the packaging changes n the item they are looking for this could cause problems.
These are all things that can help ease the fear of the unknown as it’s often a problem for us.