The Purple One

Transitions occur many times during the day and can be a huge source of anxiety for the autistic person. This is often because what may happen upon change or transition is uncertain, particularly if the transition means moving from one environment to another. The new environment is not just new physically, it is also a new sensory space that may seem unpredictable and full of uncertainty. Additionally, the area the individual must pass through can be a cause for anxiety, with the route not guaranteed to provide the same sensory experience every time.

One effective way in which to support an autistic individual during a physical transition is to structure it. Give the individual a tangible to hold (the purple one), with the purpose of matching it to its counterpart or placing it in a specific area when they arrive in the new environment. Not only does this provide something to focus on, by way of distraction and/or through sensory input (as holding it provides visual, tactile and proprioception input), it also gives the autistic individual a start, middle and end to the transition. The transition begins once the individual holds the visual, the middle being the journey to the next physical space and the end is the individual matching and placing the visual in the new environment. The purple one works well, not only because it structures these transitions, but also because it be applied across environments, creating predictability with a familiar tool and helping with generalisation.

Download the ‘Purple One’ mobile visual and social narrative here