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*NEW* This TEACCH Tip has a companion video that shows how to use the tip and the downloadable visuals to help support individuals cope with change. There is also a companion TEACCH Tale that features the book, That’s Good! That’s Bad! by Margery Cuyler. This is a fun children’s book that pairs nicely with our TEACCH Tip. Look for links to companion materials at bottom of page

Change has become the new normal.  Many individuals had to change to change from going to school and work , to studying and working remotely.  Summer arrived and many of our usual routines have been disrupted:  camps are virtual, and some families are taking fewer vacations and road trips.  Individuals with ASD often struggle with change (both small changes as well as larger, more impactful changes).   They may often negatively respond to changes at first, and it can be very challenging for them to shift perspective and thus change their emotion. Practicing a routine to find positive aspects of a situation can foster a shift in perspective, support emotion regulation and reduce stress.  The “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card can be used to practice a routine to strengthen this skill of shifting perspective. 

Introduce the concept as you talk about a past situation when a change was originally seen as negative, but later became more comfortable or positive.

  • Start with small/simpler changes, such as a new couch. While this may have initially caused distress for the individual, use the “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card to point out 3 things the individual now considers to be positive about this change.
  • Move on to more involved/complicated past changes, such as a move to a new classroom or a new job. Discuss how the changes may have initially been viewed as challenging, noting the negatives that were associated with this change. Then use the “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card, to help the individual list 3 things they now see as positive, for example: “I met some new friends”, “I liked my new schedule”, and “I liked the food in the cafeteria.”
  • Next, discuss changes that have occurred more recently, and may still feel somewhat negative.  Again, start with simpler changes, and then discuss more involved ones.  An example of a recent common change is that everyone is staying at home more. Talk about the negative thoughts the individual expressed when this change first occurred and then use the “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card, to help the individual list 3 things they are starting to consider to be positive about this change. For example, “I get to spend more time with my family”, “I get to bake new dishes”, and “I  get to do Yoga on ZOOM.”
  • Finally, this concept can be used to help prepare for future changes.  For example, we will be experiencing changes as we begin to move back to our work sites and schools (these types of changes from home to school and to new work environments occur throughout one’s life). Use the “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card to discuss some possible positive aspects of the upcoming changes.

Helpful Hints: 

  • Demonstrate how to practice this strategy by discussing and reflecting on past situations when you, as a parent and/or mentor personally struggled with change.  List some negative things you thought or felt about the change, then use the “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card to talk about 3 positive outcomes for you.
  • Together, practice finding the positives and negatives for different situations while watching television shows, reading books, etc. Use the “Power of the Positive: Pick 3” card and strategy to create a routine that can be applied to changes on a daily basis into the future.
  • Be patient, gentle, and consistent. Change can be hard for all of us and using the “Power of the Positive” takes practice and support.
  • That’s Good, That’s Bad by Margery Cuyler is a fun children’s book to read and discuss.

Learn how to use this tip and downloadable materials – Watch video of Glenna Osborne and McCafferty S. Kermon from TEACCH discussing how to use the TEACCH tip and downloadable visuals to help support individuals cope with change.

Downloadable Materials

Click here to download the Power of the Positive: Pick 3 cards

Click here for the companion TEACCH Tale video.

Glenna Osborne and McCafferty Kermon from TEACCH reading and using visuals with That’s Good! That’s Bad book for TEACCH Tales

In times of uncertainty, everyone benefits from predictability!