Helping your child with new experiences

Helping your child with new experiences

  • Try to maintain a schedule with minimal transitions, as similar as s/he is used to.
  • Providing a “what to expect” mini-lesson before heading out to a new setting or having a new activity can go a long way! Visuals are always useful (SEE BELOW FOR SAMPLE MINI-LESSON)
  • Create a daily routine so your child knows what to expect. (SEE BELOW FOR SAMPLE ROUTINE SCHEDULE)
  • Engage the child as much as possible. Incidental teaching is a valuable technique to utilize when out and about!
  • Come prepared! Have a “favorites” bag to take along on trips if your child gets overwhelmed and needs some space.
  • Sensory-friendly activities are a great choice! (SEE BELOW FOR ACTIVITIES)
  • Prevent behaviors by providing lots of non-contingent attention throughout the day.
  • And, just as importantly, give yourself a break too. As a parent, you definitely deserve some me-time!

What to expect, mini-lesson sample:

Going to the zoo!


Sit down in a comfortable environment at a time that your child is calm.


Take out a scrap piece of paper. Start drawing out what the zoo looks like in a bird’s eye view. Detail the following information:

WHERE – where you will be going.

HOW – how you will get there, how it works: first we wait in line for tickets, then we buy tickets, then we start walking to each exhibit, etc.

WHO – who will be there: visitors, zoo keepers, workers…

WHAT – what will you see there: animals, cages, signs with rules, golf carts, etc.

WHEN – when you will be going, how long you expect to stay, when you will come home

**If you have time, “sure, because all parents have extra time on their hands, I know, I know”, printing out some pictures of the zoo you’ll be going to is invaluable. This will help your child visualize what s/he can expect from the trip.


Use the time to discuss any questions your child has. You know your child best! Think what s/he may struggle with during this new experience and prepare him/her accordingly.


Pack some favorites with your child to use during “down time”, such as waiting in line or when your child starts to lose interest in the trip.

Try to plan and prepare WITH your child, instead of FOR your child!


At the zoo, use your pictures as a reminder of what your child can expect. Discuss what you see and involve your child in the experience!




**Remember, the more your child knows what to expect, the easier the experience!

Check the download for more ideas.

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