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Sensory Processing, Motor and Social Skills Resources
for Parents of  Special Needs Children

Easing Transitions for Sensory Children

Strategies to solve sticky situations, part four

Part 4 of 6: Specific how-to’s of transition routines strategies

Forge a foundation for fluid transitioning
“Routine is a ground to stand on.”
— Henry David Thoreau
In this post, we’re going to look at specific ideas and suggestions for the third category of transition strategies: Routines. As always, you’ll need to experiment to figure out which strategies work best for your family and which you’ll want to build on/adapt to your individual family’s needs.
Transition Routines strategies
If the same things happen in the same way every day, sensory children feel secure and calm. So you want to create consistent, predictable, familiar routines for the transitions that happen every day, and stick to these routines as closely as you can. 
Here are examples of some routines you can start with:
 Morning routine
– Note: you want your child to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays. 
– A morning routine can consist of: 
Wake up; go to the bathroom; brush teeth (or brush after breakfast if preferred); eat breakfast; wash face; brush teeth; get dressed; brush or comb hair; pack lunch in backpack; put shoes on; put coat on; put backpack on; go out the door.
 Mealtime routine
– Note: you want your child to eat meals at the same time every day. 
– A mealtime routine can consist of: 
Go to the bathroom; wash hands; help with meal-related chores; sit in your chair; eat your meal.
 Next-day-prep routine
– As part of your child’s afternoon (or pre-bedtime, if that works better for your family) routine, you want to prep for the next morning. This prep routine might look something like this: 
Set alarms (for the same time every morning); load your organization bin, if you use one (one way to keep organized is to assign a bin or container to each family member); make lunch (or help a parent make lunch) to bring to school, if applicable; lay out clothes for the next day; pack backpack.
– Note: you want to involve your child as much as possible to get him invested and on board, but don’t overwhelm him with choices either. For example, offer her a choice between two shirts, not a closet full. 
– Packing the backpack includes elements such as making sure that homework is done; anything that needs to go to school (a sharing-time object? a rest-time book? tissues?) is packed; pencils are sharpened; a fidget object (if applicable) is packed, etc.
 Bedtime routine
– Note: you want your child to go to bed at the same time every day. 
– Going to bed becomes harder if your child is engaged in a very enjoyable activity just before he is asked to get into bed. Therefore, you want to create a nighttime routine that takes this into account in order to ease the transition from day to night.
A bedtime routine for younger children might look like this:
Set a timer for a final five or ten minutes of playtime; brush teeth; wash face; bath; bedtime story; bedtime song; hug/kiss; lights out.
A bedtime routine for older children might look like this:
Set a timer for a final five or ten minutes of activity; turn off screens; brush teeth; wash face; shower; read in bed or listen to soft music for a pre-arranged amount of time; lights out.
– Of course, you’ll want to adapt routines to your particular family and daily life, as well as create additional routines for other everyday transitions (going to school? after school homework and downtime?).
Looking ahead:
In the next post, we’ll discuss specific strategies for the fourth category of transitions: Management. 
What successful routines do you follow? Are there others which didn’t work as well? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, let me know there or via email what topics you would like to discuss or hear more about. 
Feel free to share or quote from this blog (with attribution, please, and if possible, a link), and to repost on social media.
I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

About Miriam:

Miriam Skydell MS, OTR/L is a pediatric OT with 30 years experience and a strong commitment to empowering every child with the skills, confidence and emotional stability necessary for a meaningful, independent life. In addition to her Masters degree from NYU (1986) and membership in the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association), Miriam is a licensed Interactive Metronome®, HWT (Handwriting Without Tears®), and TLP (The Listening Program®) provider.

Miriam performs preschool screenings, contracts experienced OTs, PTs and STs to schools, helped implement the HWT curriculum, and lectures extensively for parent and support groups and at teacher conferences for public and private schools throughout New Jersey. Through her private practice in Fair Lawn, Miriam Skydell and Associates, established in 1995, Miriam has helped countless children with a wide range of diagnoses improve functional living skills, manage the impact of sensory processing dysfunction, and meet their individual potentials.

In 2013, Miriam developed the Sensory Bounce® Therapy program for children with special needs, including autism, to receive therapy in a fun, natural play environment which their typically-developing peers often enjoy. In a stimulating indoor inflatable bounce facility, an experienced therapist works with small groups of children with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, sensory processing difficulties, and other delays. Children learn to build their motor and social skills in goal-oriented therapy play sessions, classes, after school programs, and winter and summer camps. Simultaneously, parents meet in a separate space to share common experiences and support each other. Miriam takes pride in providing a nurturing, caring environment where children and their parents feel safe and secure to explore, take risks and overcome challenges.

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