Helping an autistic child with transitions

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Helping an autistic child with transitions

The world is such an unpredictable place for our kids with autism, especially the transition from home, which is the most relaxed space, and then to school, the most challenging when it comes to social, emotional, and academic demands. And I had a young man who I helped make a very smooth transition. He was starting middle school and he was just terrified so what I did is I got together with his folks and we made a plan. One month before school started, we got him into a routine: what time to go to bed, what time to get up. And then, we met his teacher before school started. And then, two weeks before the school actually opened its doors, what we did is we created a map, a visual aid, so that we could figure out how to go from classroom to lunchroom, lunchroom to the recess area to the lockers and back. We also spent a little bit of time figuring out how to make that combination on the locker work. We worked together as a team, and his transition into middle school, smooth.

Watch Video: Helping an autistic child with transitions by Esther Hess, PhD, ...


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Esther Hess, PhD

Pediatric Psychologist

Dr. Esther Hess is a developmental psychologist. She specializes in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of children with developmental delays, regulatory disorders and language impairment, specifically autism, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified.  In addition, she treats various psychological ailments including, affective disorders, selective mutism, school phobias, attention deficit disorder, non-verbal learning disorders and difficulties as related to childhood response to parental divorce. Her expertise is in the utilization and application of a developmentally based psychotherapy (the DIR model) as devised by Dr. Stanley Greenspan. This model, conceptualized as Floor Time, takes into consideration the various underlying elements that may be impeding the child including where he/she is at developmentally, various biological constraints, and the relationship between the child and the parent. 

In addition to working with the impacted person, Dr. Hess interfaces with the entire family and coordinates the efforts of the various members of team specialists who assist in boosting the impacted individual’s developmental lag.  She is currently one of Dr. Greenspan’s Senior Clinicians on the West Coast, certified in  D.I.R./Floor Time and has trained parents, interventionists and clinicians both nationally and internationally in the developmental/relational method known as Floor Time.  Dr. Hess is the executive director of a multidisciplinary treatment facility in West Los Angeles, Center for the Developing Mind.

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