Helping with Transitions!
As SLP's we are often included as part of the team that transitions students from school to school, and grade-to-grade. We are often one consistent person who is a member for a child's team for many years; as a result we have a unique relationship with the child and family. In my district, we have lots of transition meeting with families and staff as we help ease the fears and anxiety of students AND their parents! Although many of the following strategies are recommended for children with autism, I find them to be work well for many students.
As a big believer in Social StoriesTM, one of the things I sometimes do is create a story for a child as they transition. I love using Social Stories, and I try to include the components that Carol Gray recommends. The social story usually stars my student (they LOVE that), talks about the school, the child's new teacher and the child's new routine. I include photographs of the new classroom, the teacher and talk about the child's routine. I try to use descriptive sentences, "At circle time we sit and listen to the teacher. We stay on our spot!" My favorite part of the transition type social story is the directive sentence such as, "I will try to follow directions!" If a child responds well, you can write stories for each part of the routine! Sometimes it helps to send the book home with the student to read over summer break.
I also try to use Visual Strategies! Sometimes kids just need a simple "rule sheet" taped to their desk. It helps to have an adult, or sometimes another child review the rules each day. The rules should be simple, and include, "I remember to raise my hand," "I keep my hands to myself," "I stay quiet while my teacher is talking."
Finally, I use the good old visual schedule. Use Boardmaker or type up a schedule to tape to the child's desk or put in a planner for him to carry around. Review it with him before school starts and each morning when he gets to school.
Some simple ways to ease transition fears are scheduling a visit to the new school, or the new classroom before school starts in the fall, or before school gets out for the summer. The school I work at has a "move up day" before school gets out for the fall. The kids find out their teachers for the next year BEFORE school gets out! Our developmentally delayed preschoolers spend some time in kindergarten meeting their teacher and doing a simple activity. If your school doesn't do those things, you can still send home some photographs of the child's new school or teacher, or encourage the teacher to send a welcome letter over the summer.
What are some strategies you have used to help ease the transition process? Please comment below or on the ADVANCE Facebook page.