Transition tools and the "ally map"

Ellen Korin

Transitions to new environments can be especially challenging for persons with ASD. Conventional wisdom suggests that “previewing” the new environment and meeting key people is a valuable orientation or transition tool. Another tool that has proven extremely useful is what I call an “Ally Map.” It is easy to create and is useful for students transitioning to new schools as well as recreational programs, camps and other new situations. It can be applied to job sites as well. To utilize an Ally Map, simply obtain or create a map of the site on a sheet of paper, at least 8x10”. For example:

Pre-select adults in key locations throughout the site: As they are introduced, place their names and roles on the map. An alternative is to have the young person taking the tour do the recording himself (don’t forget a clipboard). Be specific about defining each location on the map. It may also be helpful to take a facial photo of each person met.

Subsequently create at least two copies of the map – one compact enough to carry in a backpack or binder (laminated) and one(s) to go on the refrigerator at home, the locker at school or the bulletin board in the dorm room(these can be larger, but also laminated). Print the names and include photos if possible.

“Pilot” the map on a second trip – can the individual find each person? (it can be set up as a kind of treasure hunt for younger students; each person they find might even have a small gift or treat for them). Repeat as many times as appropriate for the young person to feel comfortable and confident that should he become confused, disoriented or upset along the way, he will be able to locate an ally, a helping and receptive adult whom he has already met, in any location on campus or in a particular building.

Reinforce this as a lifelong strategy by having the individual create Ally Maps for new places and situations.

Ellen Korin is a special educator with over 35 years of experience. Retired in 2005 from the Lexington, MA, public schools, she maintains an active consulting and coaching practice and speaks frequently at conferences. She is the author of an interactive workbook for adolescents, Asperger Syndrome: An Owner's Manual--What You, Your Parents and Your Teachers Need to Know: An Interactive Guide and Workbook

Courtesy of APPC

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