Friday, March 14, 2008


If you leave me now
You'll take away the biggest part of me
Ooo oh, no, baby please don't go

And if you leave me now
You'll take away the very heart of me
Ooo oh, no, baby please don't go.
Ooo, oh, girl, I just want you to stay
(Peter Cetera, 1976)

I mentioned in my Thankful Thursday post yesterday that Ashley has a new intervener at school. Also known as a one-to-one instructional assistant, Mary Beth will be Ashley’s eyes and ears during the school day. The transition from Amy, the previous intervener, to Mary Beth, was handled extremely well by my school district. Amy remains in the same classroom as the “classroom instructional assistant”. That means she will be around as Ashley adjusts to Mary Beth, and if Mary Beth has any questions, Amy is always available to answer them. For once, Ashley did not have a support person just disappear one day to be replaced by someone new the next – a situation that happens often to our children with significant disabilities.

Preparing our children with significant disabilities for these transitions can be a difficult task, especially when the transition occurs quickly. How do you explain to a young child who lives more in a concrete frame of mind that one of the special people in their life is moving on? How do you explain that someone new will be taking over? How do you help your child develop a positive relationship with the new support person when they have a tough time understanding where the old support person went?

What about family and friends that move away, especially if the distance is so great that seeing the departing person will happen very infrequently if at all? And, how will I explain to Ashley when her beloved brother, Chip, goes off to college? I can’t think of a picture symbol that would explain those concepts.

Often, for typically developing children, letters and phone calls can be exchanged after a transition. Parents of typically developing children may struggle with explaining the transition, but words can usually be found. What happens to the child who can’t hear the words or can’t understand the words?

It’s obvious from this post that I have more questions than answers. If any of my readers have suggestions or just wish to share their experiences with transitions, I would love to hear what you have to say.


Anonymous said...

Transitions is hard. We start well in advance and in other cases we wait till the last minute. It is so hard to know what to do and it varies a great deal between children. I will give this some thought on what we do.

Anonymous said...

One thing we did when M was going through a lot of changes when we moved or changed schools was taking photos of the people involved and laminating them. Then, I hole punched them and put them on a ring so she could carry them around with her. It helped her have something concrete to point to when she was sad or wanting to communicate with me about the person. We also did this with pictures places we go or things she may want to have with her but could not express. She still has these and brings them out every now and then.

A fellow blogger, Katrin... I read at I'm Not Wrong just wrote about changes and how they affect her as an adult. It may be interesting for you to read.

Casdok said...

I havent as yet found anything to help with transitions. Sorry.

Ashley's Mom said...

Marla, the pictures are a good idea. I'll try that with Ashley as long as she has a little vision. Currently, she is completely blind in her left eye, and has a clnical measurement of 20/2000 in her right eye. To see stuff, she has to be about an inch from it. And, she has glaucoma, so what vision she does have is variable from day to day.

mommy~dearest said...

oooh- yes. We are quite familiar with this issue. Unfortunately, Jaysen's school does not handle transitioning very well, and his one-to-one's have come and gone without even other staff knowing.

In the past, if I was aware that the person would not be coming back, my answer was always "she/he went to college". Deceiptful? Absolutely. but Jaysen remembers when Blues Clues madt the transition from Steve to Joe, and he seemed okay with "college" being a place that people go. I think he looks at it as a place that he knows the person isn't GONE, just gone from the current situation.

Now, when our cat died? Yeah...he didn't go to college.