Many students with executive dysfunction (EDF), Asperger's Disorder, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have difficulty making transitions. If the child is having difficulty due to an anxiety-related compulsive behavior, the following strategy may not work, but for many children, simply providing direct instruction on how to make a transition will speed transitions up tremendously.
Teach students how to make a transition just as you would teach other skills, using the "Say, Show, Check" approach to teaching skills. To prepare for the lesson, make up a sign (like the one below). You will also need a timing device (like a stopwatch), a pen, and a piece of paper to record progress. Set aside about 20 minutes to do this activity, although you may not need that much time.
Note: if your students are too young to use the word "transition," substitute another word or phrase, such as,"time to change," and use that phrase in the sign and your lesson.
How to Make Transitions
1. Move quickly.
2. Put away what you were doing and get what you need for the next activity.
3. Move your chair quietly
Point to the sign and tell the students that you are going to teach them how to make transitions.
Define transition time as "the time it takes to change what you are doing." Have the students repeat the definition to you. If they provide the correct definition, say "Right! Transition time is the time it takes to change what you are doing." If the students do not give the correct definition, calmly repeat it and then ask again.
State that it is important for transitions to be both quick and quiet. Ask the students to repeat to you the two things that transitions should be. If they provide the correct answer, say, "Right! Transitions should be quick and quiet." If they do not give the correct answer, calmly repeat that transitions should be quick and quiet and then ask them to tell you the two things transitions should be.
Tell the students that you are going to show them how to make quick and quiet transitions.
Go over each of the rules on your sign, reading it aloud, and then checking for comprehension on each one. Then have the students repeat the three rules.
Now it's "show time." Model different types of quick and quiet transitions and ask the students to comment on what you are demonstrating in terms of the three rules. Demonstrate changing from one activity to another while seated at your desk (e.g., put away one set of papers and take out another set). Ask the students to comment on how you moved quickly, put away what you were doing and got ready for the next activity, and didn't move your chair noisily.
Then demonstrate changing from one activity to another activity that involves you getting up from your desk. For each transition demonstration, begin the demonstration by signaling it: "It's transition time. I need to get ready for ________. I will put away my _____ and I will get out ___________." For example: "It's transition time. I need to get ready to do my math worksheet. I am putting away my science book and getting out my math book and my pencil."
Have the student practice transitions while you monitor and provide positive feedback. Be sure to signal transitions by saying, "It is transition time. Get ready for _______. You will need ______."
To make it more fun for the students, you can keep track of the time and post it on a chart to show the students their progress in making quick and quiet transitions.
To help speed up transitions, you can add in a "Beat the Buzzer" incentive, using a kitchen timer and a variety of rewards for quick transitions.