Transition Tools & Tips – Apps and Resources

Thanks to Kim Peterson for the comment she posted with a link to her suggestions for transition with kids. Those of us who work with neurotypical or neurodiverse children or students, we are well aware that transitions can cause behavioral challenges. Here’s the link to her practical suggestions for making transitions easier:

Another great resource for tips on transitions comes from the National Autism Resources Blog. I am including a few apps that can help with transitions with the tips:

5 Tips to Help Autistic Students with Transitions

Transitioning can be difficult and stressful for people with autism spectrum disorder.   Here are five techniques that can help to reduce anxiety and give a sense of predictability to transitions.

1. Create a Schedule

Create a schedule the student can refer to.  This can be a simple written list of activities or a sequence of pictures or both. Schedules can prepare a student for a transition by allowing them to anticipate upcoming activities and understand the sequence of events that will occur. Using schedules can decrease transition time and lower anxiety and melt downs.

First/ThenVisual Schedule app by Good Karma has been a very successful app used my many students at school. Its visual presentation with audio and ability to check it off as it is completed allows an interactive and visual schedule for students. (9.99, iPhone and iPad)

You can also create a list or simple schedule of pictures that are stored in your Photo app if you are using the iOS 5 operating system. Open Photos, click Albums, New Album, then name the Album and select the pictures you want to add. The album can then be played like a slide slow or as a simple schedule.

2. Show Activities as Finished

Marking activities as finished naturally prepares the student for the next activity. If using a picture schedule have a finished pocket for the student to place the picture of the completed activity in. For routine schedules, laminate the schedule with a box next to each picture that the student can check off as complete. Or simply use a piece of paper and write out the schedule and allow the student to cross each item off as it is completed.

First Then Visual Schedule  provides the ability to check off the task pictured in the picture list.

3. Use a Timer

Time is an abstract concept that can be difficult for autistic students to understand. Using a timer gives students a visual of how much time is left before a transition. It can also help to keep some kids on task for projects they don’t like, because they can see it has an end. Some timers, like the Time Timer give an additional visual of the countdown of time.

Kiddie Countdown Timer app is a favorite with therapists and early childhood teachers at our school. Free for iPhone and iPad.

For an extensive listing of visual timers download the Autism App (free) and search the visual timer category.

4. Make sure there is ample time for transitions.

Rushing to stay on schedule is stressful for anyone. Especially with new routines at school allow adequate time for autistic students to process the transition and move on to the next activity.

If you have an iPod or iPad, a  standard clock will typically have a countdown clock that  can be used to help forewarn students of an end or a transition.

5. Give the student a transition item.

Sometimes carrying a familiar item during a transition can add a sense of continuity and comfort. Some students keep an object with them throughout the day.  For others it’s helpful if they get the item after they have completed a project.  Allowing the student to get the transition item may help prepare them to move on to the next activity.

Many of our younger students have had carrier items, necessary to help them transition through parts of their day. This can be any type of object, not necessarily electronic in nature. Hard copy pictures of where or whom they are transitioning to make a great transition item, keeping it visual and concrete for student when transitioning.

Retrieved on April 5, 2012 from:

Happy transitioning! More ideas for you OT iTool Kit!

About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in App Reviews, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, Autism, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Transitions, Visual Communication and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Transition Tools & Tips – Apps and Resources

  1. Kim Peterson, LPC says:

    Glad you enjoyed the information! I work in a clinic setting with OTs, SLPs, and PTs and really believe in the work you do as Occupational Therapists. You are amazing!! I have many kids come in for counseling who I refer for OT to address sensory and other developmental needs. We make a great team!!!

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