What is cognitive shifting?

‘Cognitive shifting’ is one of the three so called ‘cognitive styles. The other two are Theory of Mind (ToM) and Central Coherence.
See here for an overview of the most relevant autistic characteristics.

The capacity for cognitive shifting, also cognitive flexibility, is the capacity to shift or switch one’s thinking and attention between different tasks or operations, typically in response to a change in rules or demands. It is an aspect of flexibility.
In autism-friendly design shifting problems can be taken into account by limiting the functions of spaces and by clearly marking transitions from one to the next. See among others zoning and visualizations.

Shifting is also required when suddenly confronted with others, strangers in particular. For this reason we recommend, among other things, to design in a way that there is ‘shifting time’ and preparations are possible when someone arrives at the front door. For children at home see here, for people living independently see here and for schools here.