• Transitions can be challenging for the neurodivergent

    I believe that transitions are one of the most understated challenges for those of us neuro-divergent people. Transitions occur frequently during our day-to-day lives and often result in disruptions, stress, and anxiety. Transitions can easily become a stumbling block partially or dramatically knocking us out of our lane of routine

    You might consider more process-type transitions such as home/work after returning from vacation or something as simple as the process of transitioning following one meeting and preparing for the next meeting.

    Here’s a simple definition:

    “Transition” is the (a) process…. that unfolds before, during, and after …the change event.

     3 phases of transition

    1. From something current (work)
    2. Into something new, different (vacation)
    3. Returning back to the former situation, #1 (work/home/school)

    Here is a sample list of transitions that can occur in our lives. Which one can you identify with?

    List of transitions

    • Leaving school/work for a summer break, on vacation mode, followed by a return to school or work.
    • Travel – preparing to leave, the processing of leaving, arriving at the travel destination (transportation, lodging, and the process of returning home and re-entering the work mode.
    • Sickness/illness – can easily put us behind, putting plans on hold, then playing catch up.
    • COVID – nobody saw it coming and most of us considered COVID to be a temporary adjustment. But the reality of children not attending school became a three-year summer break. Offices were closed so many of us worked from home. Children were trying to attend classes virtually from home. Parents were trying to work from home while their families were also home. Working from home often created a lack of external structure and accountability often present in the workplace. Adult relationships became 24/7 time together with few if any breaks contributing to strained relationships. Therapists and psychological services were booked with extended waiting lists.
    • Out-of-town visitors are often an enjoyable experience but visitors can also easily derail us from our day-to-day routines. Recovering those routines is not always easy.
    • Transitioning from work mode to home/partner/parent is a challenge for some. Your left your work environment but busy work may still be on your mind, mental processing, problem-solving, pre-planning. Entering your family home but not fully present to your loved ones.
    • The process of neurodivergent students transitions from HS > college > departing college into the working world and adulting
    • Aging into older adult life is in itself a processing of transition (physically, cognitively, emotionally). Life part two. Retirement from the working world and transitioning into a life of full-time retirement often lacks any basic structure & routine. Intentions are forgotten or ignored. You come to believe there is not a significant consequence.
    • My Transition – When housesitting a friend’s house – my grounding routines and any sense structure quickly dissolved. It’s like leaving ice cream out on the counter. It doesn’t take long to melt away.
    • Starting a new relationship. New relationships often shift a great deal of time away from pre-relationship routines, activities, and friends. Consider a balanced entry to your new relationship.
    • Moving to a new home but the transition begins with unpacking and putting your household items away, setting up the utilities, meeting new neighbors, new schools, and more.
    • Delayed flight departure > missed connecting flights > rebooking to new connecting flight > arriving 5hrs later than planned, at a different airport than originally planned where your rental is waiting.
    • My Transition – I arrived home looking forward to evening plans with my girlfriend. Instead, she informs me that she had changed our plans. Apparently, we were invited to dinner with friends (friends I enjoy) BUT I’d prefer a little notice about the change. I prefer having a transition time, to adjust versus last-minute change. Now she calls me before I leave work to let me know if there is a change of plans or asks if I’m in agreement.

    “Transition” is the (a) process…. that unfolds before, during, and after …the change event.

    Tips for situational transitions

    • When leaving town: travel
      • list the specific tasks to prepare for entering your transition (leaving home AND returning home)
        • Create a reusable checklist – (packing list, clothes, toiletries, charging device for cell phone, and more).
        • Review plans and preparations made in advance (reservations, lodging, etc).
        • Do you need to communicate your plans with anyone in advance?

      Returning to school from summer break

      • Begin resuming your pre-summer routines and structure
        • Don’t wait until the night before school resumes. Begin resuming your established school routine (set bedtime and set time to get up in the morning.
        • Resume taking your ADHD medications one week before school starts for the new year.
        • Resume your study habits and routine – (reading).
        • Identify your primary distractions from last school year.

      The transition from work mode to home/partner/parent mode.

      • List the things you can do to leave your work mindset, work issues, and tasks at work
        • Make a list of work-related thoughts and leave them at work to review tomorrow. Prepare tomorrow’s work To-Do list before leaving work
        • Park your car one block before arriving home.
          • Practicing deep breathing, relax and begin adjusting to being at home.
          • Ask yourself, “Whom do I get to BE” for my partner and my children when I get home.
          • Make pre-arrangements that when you arrive home you will change from your work clothes into comfortable clothing (change of mindset) and take a moment before Being fully present to others at home.


      CoachRudy Rodriguez – is a PAAC Certified Professional ADHD Coach who specializes in coaching ADHD and Executive Function with adults, entrepreneurs, and those who struggle with managing time, projects, and productivity. Rudy has a strong passion for coaching people with ADHD. Rudy was awarded the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO) 2022 Professional Excellence Award. He is on the board of the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches (PAAC). He can be reached by email at: coachrudy@adhdcenterforsuccess.com

      List important and urgent things to do following your transition home/office?

      • I leave a folder on my uncluttered desk containing important papers, a To-Do list of important/urgent tasks requiring immediate attention, and other important details such as contact information.
      • Consider taking some planned downtime for personal transition before jumping back into your full pace?

    Transitions can be challenging for the neurodiverse

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