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How can I help my child with special needs cope with transitions and changes in routine?

Hello everyone,

I have a child with special needs who has difficulty coping with transitions and changes in routine. Our family has been struggling to help our child manage these challenges and we are turning to this forum for advice.

Our child has ADHD and struggles with sensory processing issues. Any time there is a change in routine, whether it’s a new activity, a different environment, or an unexpected event, our child can become extremely agitated and stressed out. This can lead to tantrums, meltdowns, and other disruptive behaviors.

We’ve tried a number of strategies to help our child cope with transitions and changes, but we haven’t found anything that consistently works. We’ve talked to teachers and therapists, but we’re always looking for additional advice and insights.

What tips and techniques have worked for you in helping your child with special needs manage transitions and changes in routine? We would be grateful for any advice, anecdotes, or experiences you can share.

Thank you!

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Hi everyone,

As a parent of a child with a developmental disability who experiences difficulty with transitions and changes in routine, I understand firsthand how challenging it can be. One of the things that have worked for us is breaking up the day into smaller chunks of time.

We use a visual timer to help our child understand how long a task or activity will take. This way, they know when something is going to end, and they can mentally prepare for the next thing on the schedule.

Another tool that has been helpful is to practice transitions when we have free time. For example, we might practice going from home to the car or the car to the store before we actually have to do it so that our child understands what to expect, and it becomes a familiar routine.

In our experience, it has also been helpful to use positive reinforcement. We reward our child for successfully transitioning from one activity to another or for adapting well to last-minute changes.

Lastly, as a family, we try our best to stay calm and patient when our child is struggling with transitions. It's not always easy, but we've found that our child feeds off of our energy, so if we remain calm, it can help them remain calm as well.

Overall, we've learned that to help our child cope with transitions and changes in routine, we need to be patient, understanding and tailor our approach to suit their unique needs. I hope these tips help you as much as they've helped us.



I understand the difficulties of managing transitions for children with special needs. In my experience, having a consistent daily routine has helped my child. We have set specific times for breakfast, lunch, playtime, homework, and bedtime. This helps my child know what to expect and reduces anxiety.

Another technique that has worked well is giving my child frequent breaks during an activity or task. For example, if we are doing homework, we’ll take short breaks every 10-15 mins to help my child maintain focus and not get overwhelmed.

It might also be helpful to involve your child in the transition process. This can include letting them pick out their clothes for the day or letting them help plan the day’s activities.

Finally, it’s important to remain calm and patient when your child is struggling with transitions. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that your child needs your support to manage their emotions and behavior.

I hope my experiences will be helpful to you and your family. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. Good luck to you and your family on this journey.


Hi there,

I can definitely relate to your struggles with helping your child cope with transitions and changes in routine. My son also has ADHD and sensory processing difficulties, and we have dealt with many similar challenges.

One technique that has worked well for us is using visual schedules and social stories. The visual schedules help my son understand what is going to happen next and prepare himself mentally for any changes. And the social stories help him understand why the changes are happening and what he can expect in a new situation.

Another technique that has worked well is giving my son plenty of warning before a change is going to happen. For example, if we need to leave the park, I will tell him in advance that we will be leaving soon, and then remind him again a few minutes before it’s time to go. This gives him time to mentally prepare and reduces the likelihood of a meltdown.

Finally, we have found it helpful to practice routines and transitions at home in situations that are less stressful. For example, we might practice going to a new restaurant by role-playing the experience at home first. This helps my son become familiar with the routine and feel more confident in the new situation.

I hope these tips are helpful to you and your family. Good luck!



I have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder who also struggles with transitions and changes in routine. One strategy that has worked well for us is the use of visual aids such as pictures, social stories or video modeling to inform my child of any changes coming up. It has really helped prepare her for what to expect.

Another strategy that we have found useful is incorporating a countdown timer. For instance, when it's time to leave the playground, we would set a timer for five minutes and explain to our child that it's almost time to go. This helps her understand that the activity is coming to a close and gives her time to prepare herself for the next task or transition.

Additionally, we've also discovered that allowing some flexibility to the routine can help ease the stress of change for our child. We've set specific routines for activities but allow some flexibility in the order of the activities, as long as the activities get done by the end of the day.

Lastly, it's critical to be patient and understanding when our child is struggling with transitions. We try to provide emotional support and show our child that they can always communicate with us when they're feeling overwhelmed or struggling.

Overall, as a parent, I've learned that it's important to be flexible and experiment with different strategies until we find what works best for our child. I hope you find these suggestions beneficial!


Hi there,

I can completely empathize with what you've been going through as I too have a child with special needs who finds it hard to cope with transitions and changes in routine. What I found is that preparing them beforehand to talk about the upcoming changes is very helpful. For example, if there is a change in routine ahead, I take my child aside and have a conversation with her explaining what will happen, any changes she should expect and that it's perfectly okay to feel uncertain or afraid but that she can count on me for support throughout the transition.

Additionally, we use a reward system where my child gets rewarded for positive behavior during a transition. This includes completing a task on time or calmly transitioning from one activity to another. This technique helps my child stay motivated and maintain good behavior during transitions.

Another thing that we've found helpful is making sure that my child gets enough time to process a change. This means giving her sufficient time to adjust to the idea of what's happening, so she can mentally prepare and ease any potential anxiety.

Lastly, I have found incorporating sensory tools into our daily routine helps with transitioning as well. Having something like a fidget toy or sensory ball can help ease the child's anxiety and keep them focused and calm.

I hope these tips help you and your child manage transitions more successfully! Remember, every child is unique so keep trying out different techniques until you find something that works for your child.

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