Transitions are a major part of everyday life for everyone. Whatever the environment, (home, school, or in the workplace), transitions naturally arise. Transitioning requires a person to have the ability to stop an activity, possibly change locations and begin something new. Transitions involve not only a change to a different place, but also a change in thinking pattern to a different topic. Some teenagers with autism may have difficulties associated with changes in routine or changes in environments, and may have a need for “sameness” and predictability (Mesibov et al., 2005).

Transitions may be challenging because some individuals with autism may have difficulty with:

  • Understanding verbal instructions or explanations
  • Sequencing and remembering information or steps of an activity
  • Recognising the subtle cues leading up to a transition (i.e. students packing up their materials, teachers wrapping up their lesson, other students getting their lunches out)
  • Changing routine or behaviour
  • Anxiety levels and emotional regulation which can impact behaviour during transitions

This section introduces some tried and tested strategies that may be useful for teenagers before, during and after transitions.