Shifting gears without a hitch
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Shifting Gears without a Hitch. Easing Transitions for Students with Autism. Executive Functioning. Organization and planning abilities Working memory Inhibition and impulse control Self-reflection and self-monitoring Time management and prioritizing

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Shifting Gears without a Hitch

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Shifting Gears without a Hitch

Easing Transitions for Students with Autism

Executive Functioning

  • Organization and planning abilities

  • Working memory

  • Inhibition and impulse control

  • Self-reflection and self-monitoring

  • Time management and prioritizing

  • Understanding abstract or complex concepts

  • Using new strategies

Working Memory

  • The ability to hold information in one’s memory long enough to use that information to solve a problem.

    - Changes in routine

    -Outside factors such as anxiety

    -Strategies for mastering academic work

  • Student’s with ASD often have amazing long term recall, but poor short term or working memory.

Inhibition or Impulse Control

  • The ability to think before acting

  • Tends to be very limited in many students on the spectrum.

  • Shows up especially in the early years

  • Older students may begin to show signs of deliberation, but setting events may disinhibit their actions

Using New Strategies

  • Flexibility in thinking

  • Experimenting with new ways to problem solve.

  • Difficulty understanding why a strategy that worked before, may not work again. (Math)

  • Difficulty learning from one’s mistakes

Tips for Easing Transitions

  • Use Visual Supports/Written Schedules with all transitions

  • Consistency across all environments as much as possible

  • Prepare for schedule disruptions

  • Using the same language to give directives

  • Promote student accountability

Visual Supports

  • Picture Schedules

  • Written schedules

  • Check lists

  • Social Stories

  • Self Monitoring strategies

  • Color coding


  • Training for staff who work with the student

  • Teachers and Paras

  • Related arts

  • Cafeteria and Office Staff

  • Better to ask than assume

Prepare for schedule disruptions

  • Prime the student for any schedule changes whenever possible.

    - Social Stories

    - Video modeling

  • Build “?” into the student’s schedule a few times a week to promote flexibility


  • Clear, concise and to the point

  • Student specific language such as:

    - “all done”

    - “ You should……”

    - Count to 5 backward as a warning

Student accountability

Allow the student time to process the information you are trying to get across.

When possible, give the student choices that will promote positive outcomes.

Allow the student to fill in behavior charts, turn cards, etc.

Use visual supports and/or Social Stories to help the child understand his actions and the consequences.

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