Jessie L. Ginsburg, MS, CCC-SLP has identified a problem many teachers, parents and professionals face when trying to facilitate a child’s transition from one activity to the next.
Counting down is a widely used strategy, where the adult sets a time frame and counts the final seconds before the transition will take place. Example: “It’s time to clean up and move on to our next activity in 2 minutes. (2 minutes passes) “We will clean up in 10 seconds…5…4…3…2…1. It’s time to clean up!”
Ginsburg points out that this count-down strategy can be dysregulating for children with communication disorders, autism, or sensory processing issues, who often have difficulty with transitions. She suggests a new approach, which lets the children feel in control by identifying their own time frame and answering questions about what will happen next.
Instead, the adult should ask what, who, where, when and how questions (e.g., “It’s been two minutes. What are we going to do now? Where are we going?) to help the child feel in control of the situation. Give choices for the child when asking these questions (e.g., How much longer would you like to play with cars, 1 or 2 minutes?”). Simply changing the language from commands to questions may help the child feel more in control and regulated during a necessary transition.
For more suggestions on this topic, check out Jessie L. Ginsburg’s post on ASHA Leader: