Countdown 5 to easier Transitions Autism

Transition 5 Countdown

So as not to startle, rush, or cause a meltdown, count down to transitions. Make sure child sees your hand, wait until they look at your hand, and say the number of minutes to transition. Child may not look at your face when you speak but they may look at your hand…wave a bit first, the movement might get their attention long enough to look at your hand.


Five minutes to transition, also let child know what the transition is i.e. ‘5 minutes and you need to leave school and get on the bus.’


four minutes to transition, this would also be a good time to tell child if they need to put things away soon or now


Three minutes to transition, ‘is your back pack ready to go?’

Note: if child is learning to count using their fingers, make sure you hold your fingers the same for the countdown.


Two minutes to transition, is everything put away?


one minute to transition, everything that needed to be completed before transition should be all done, only thing left to do is start transition


Time to transition. If at all possible practice transitions before they are necessary.  Using a visual schedule along with the 5 countdown works very well. Placing a hand picture with all 5 fingers up on the schedule will help also.


Note: the ‘zero’ on the left may be confused for OK so a closed hand might be ideal.

This isn’t a quick fix, and all of the child’s caregivers need to be on the same page with the transition 5 count down.  You may need to start with a higher number if the child struggles to be prepared in 5 minutes.  More than 10 may not be very easy as you only have 10 fingers to use as your visual.



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