Transition Tolerance

Transitions and Dr Laura Mraz

What is the issue? Transitioning, or changing from one activity or setting to another, occurs many times throughout the day. Some children have a difficult time tolerating transitions and demonstrate increased challenging behaviors during these times.  

Why is this an issueTransitioning occurs many times throughout the day in all settings, including at home, school, work, and in the community. If a child has a difficult time tolerating transitions, they may become dysregulated, therefore not able to participate or engage in the many occupations and activities that they are expected to do or need to do throughout the day. Increasing the predictability of transitions throughout the day may be beneficial (Hume, 2018).  

5 strategies to try at home

Transitions and Dr Laura Mraz

1. Creating a visual schedule of the day. 

Tip: Using a visual schedule with pictures or words (if the child can read) of the different activities throughout the day in the correct order may be beneficial. It is helpful to use Velcro to create these so your child can remove activities they have completed as they go throughout their day. 

Transitions and Dr Laura Mraz

2. Using visual timers that track how much time remains for each activity. 

Tip: Visually tracking how much time remains in an activity can help a child understand that one activity is about to end and prepare for what comes next. 

Transitions and Dr Laura Mraz

3. Preparing for transitions with warnings or countdowns. 

Tip: 5-minute warnings may be beneficial to help children prepare for ending one activity and transitioning to something different. 

Transitions and Dr Laura Mraz

4. Using “First… Then…” 

Example: “First we are brushing our teeth, then we are going to bed”. This allows the child to understand the series of events occurring. 

Transitions and Dr Laura Mraz

5. Ensuring the child is regulated prior to transition. 

Tip: Transitions are a lot easier for children when they are regulated. Ask your therapist for strategies that may help regulate your child, such as swinging, sorting activities, or different sensory strategies.  


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl. 1), S1-S48. 

Hume, K. (2008). Transition time: Helping individuals on the autism spectrum move successfully from one activity to another. The Reporter 13(2), 6-10.