Transitions between activities, rooms and classes are difficult for many students with autism and often increase anxiety.  Students who are overresponsive to sensory input may have additional anxiety around transitions due to a fear of the unknown and unpredictable sensory input involved in the next activity or environment.

  • Use visual supports to prepare the student.  This will assist in making the sensory input more predictable.
  • Visit new rooms and environments at a time when it is quiet, and repeat this several times until the student is familiar and comfortable with the new setting.  On each visit, gradually increase the time spent in the new setting.
  • Ensure the student has a way to request a calm break or to communicate if he/she needs to leave the room.
  • Allow the student to bring a favourite familiar object for all transitions.  This provides a source of predictability in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Provide calming input during transitions which will help to regulate the student.  Options may include carrying a back pack with appropriate weight in it, squeezing a stress ball or holding open heavy doors.
  • Students who are easily overwhelmed by sensory input often become anxious when moving in busy corridors between classes.  Allow the student to leave class a few minutes before or after the rest of the class so the student is moving through quiet empty corridors.