Case study on Transitions
K. is six years old and attends a special school. He has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and has verbal communication skills and is academically able but has difficulties with transitions resulting in behaviour of concern.
K. is six years old and attends a special school. He has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and has verbal communication skills and is academically able but has difficulties with transitions resulting in behaviour of concern. He also requires support with emotional regulation. He likes completing his work and has a particular interest in Thomas the Tank Engine.
K. has difficulty remaining calm and his behaviour can be perceived as challenging when he is transitioned to a different play yard, a different bathroom, to his classroom in the mornings, lining up and making transitions between activities. It was observed during these occasions that he will lie down on the floor, bang his fists, hit, bite and throw chairs. Telling K. where he is going did not seem to help. Typically he is directed to his traffic light chart indicating he has reached the red circle and needs to sit in time out but this frequently escalates his behaviour.
On consultation with his teacher, the following were identified as explanations for difficulties during transitions:
- Difficulty managing change
- Becomes anxious when presented with change
- When a change occurs he finds this unpredictable
- K. processes visual information more easily than verbal information
- If change is required in his teacher finds it difficult to introduce the change to him
- K. was using a whole class schedule which was not individualised
The following strategies were used:
- K. needs photographs of where he is going to help reduce anxiety
- He needs an individualised schedule indicating not just that he is going to play outside but what he will do when he is outside
- He benefits from using a travel whiteboard so that a supporting adult can draw what is happening next if a specific photograph visual is not available
- Using a travel schedule helps him remember where he is transitioning to
- Using an individualised travel schedule helps reduce verbal instruction which K. finds difficult to process at this key times of his day.
- Using a countdown strip 5,4,3,2,1 (see example below) helps prepare K. for a change either for a an activity or location
- K. is also learning how to emotionally regulate so that the duration, frequency and intensity of behaviour will become reduced and he learns appropriate ways to express himself. This has included introducing emotions matching tasks to help him label his emotions and activities he can do to help him calm (e.g. watching a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD, having time out).