Transition Routines for NLD and ADD Support Executive Functioning

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 |

Students need routines to help with landings and taking offs.These routines will help them to successfully navigate the transitions that take place throughout the school day.

girls starting to sprintEvery student needs to learn how to land and how to takeoff to be an effective student. No one joins a flight in midair but many NLD and ADD students join their classes as if Scotty had randomly beamed them there. Every day with almost every transition students without a flight routine will get into the middle of a class and realize they are missing something from their home or they didn’t know that there was an assignment and that it was due today. Aspergers and ADHD kids are prone to forget things or not pay attention to critical transitions in class. How do NLD and ADD kids mitigate this innate tendency to miss place items or forget things? The answer for kids that lose and forget their things is to help them develop routines. These routines are over learned. Over learned information would be facts like your multiplication tables. By over learning something it becomes automatic. Over learned routines help students to keep track of their things and bring the things they need to class or home. A routine or checklist helps students to takeoff from home to school, from their locker to the classroom or from school to home. Routines can help typically unprepared NLD and ADHD students to more effectively transition from school to home and from class to class.

Routines need to be over learned to the point of automaticity. Takeoff and landing routines are a rationalized process for arriving and leaving. These critical transitions are facilitated if there is a mental checklist (written down for training and reference) that is followed. Students need an environment at home and at school that supports the implementation of a routine. Home life routines that vary greatly are not supportive. Teachers that have no set class routine for the beginning or ending of classes are also difficult environments for an ADD or Aspergers student. The implementation of routines should also incorporate the “I do, we do, and then you do” learning model (see Tip on the “I do, we do, and then you do” learning model). In addition, parents and teachers should realize that installing a routine into the long term memory takes time. Also, any testing of routines should be mindful of the differences in long term memory and short term memory (see the Tip on Going Long or the Conversion of Short Term Memory into Long Term Memory). Students that have mastered (installed information into long term memory) a routine will be able to site components of the routing without referring to notes or receiving any prompts from parents or teachers after at least one hour break. Mastering a routine without a reference list may not be worth the effort. In that case, students will have the list available for reference.

Schoolboy With His Bag - IsolatedParents need to modify the home environment to accommodate a landing and takeoff routine. Getting involved in establishing routines for their child gives parents an opportunity to model a repeatable process that occurs when entering or leaving a place. Teachers that follow a routine at the beginning and end of class allow students to examine and ultimately appreciate the impact a routine has on their organization and executive functioning. Over time, a teacher can begin to incorporate student input and involvement in maintaining class routines to help students to engage and learn routines. A transition routine for teachers does not mean that their lessons between the transitions need to be dull and mechanical. Transition routines are student centric. They enable a student to effectively move from class to class and from school to home. Teachers with effective routines will ultimately improve their student performances with respect to assignments handed in on time and assignments meeting teacher expectations. Hopefully, the teacher benefit of maintaining transition routines outweighs any perceived tradeoff to lost time spent on supporting executive functioning instead of delivering more content.

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