Why transition is important?
Moving from one setting or activity to another, let alone between life stages, can be particularly challenging for people on the spectrum. Those providing services or support are able to do a great deal to help manage these transitions in schools, workplaces and with personal goals. Not only can it help set up people on the spectrum for positive educational, social and professional experiences, but it can also help reduce anxiety and stress for the person, their families and staff working to support them.
Transition to school
Ideally, as well as the receiving school, transition support is integrated into a child’s therapy/home-based intervention. Strategies to support this important transition are also covered in the parent education components of centre-based programs. There are usually a number of people involved in supporting a diagnosed child’s transition into school, but often the support is not planned and there can be gaps in terms of support for both the child, family and educational personnel.
Transition to school is a process. It can be helpful to look at this in three parts:
- Presence: the child being enrolled at a school that provides a safe and appropriate learning environment. Focusing on this area would involve helping parents understand the range of schooling options and how they match the learning needs of their child. It could involve supporting them to visit school, attend information evenings, meet with school personnel and develop a transition plan.
- Participation: the child being included in the school setting and the school being prepared to meet their needs. Focusing on this area would involve helping to identify and develop a range of support strategies that can make the transition process smooth and successful for the child on the autism spectrum.
- Learning: the child being engaged in meaningful learning experiences at school. Focusing on this area is about the provision of useful information about the child and their learning style and challenges to ensure that the school is well-prepared to provide an appropriate program for the child.
To access a workbook on transition, click here.
Routines typically play an important role for people of all ages on the autism spectrum. The everyday hustle and bustle that most people view as ‘normal’, including inevitable change, can be overwhelming for people on the spectrum.
Preparation is key during times of change, such as moving from one house to another. Taking into account the person’s strengths, abilities and preferences for learning and explaining these to teachers, employers and other significant people, is advisable. This will mean they are better equipped to deliver support and information to assist with the process of transition.
- For 'one family's story: moving house', click here
- For 'one family's story: starting therapy', click here
- To access a transition support checklist, click here
Moving into adulthood
Finishing school and starting adult life can be exciting, full of possibilities and opportunities. However, for most people, and especially those on the autism spectrum, it can also be a stressful and confusing time, for both the person and their parents or carers. There are so many decisions to be made and, to make good decisions, you need to have a thorough understanding of all the options and supports available.
To support this pivotal transition, Aspect launched a free online resource called Launchpad. The site was created to support teenagers and young people, aged 16 and over, on the spectrum. Launchpad covers the major topics individuals and parents need to know about transition, from school to adult life including; study, work, health, social life, learning to drive, independent living and self-advocacy.
Launchpad features two separate sections for young people and parents throughout each topic. This means that it is useful for all young people on the spectrum, whatever their strengths and challenges. Launchpad includes practical strategies, personal stories and links to great resources to assist individuals on the spectrum move into adulthood.
Other useful resources to assist in supporting people on the spectrum in transitions are:
- A framework for inclusion
- Transition plan schedule
- ‘A Practical Guide for Teachers of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Secondary Education’ by Dr Debra Costley, Elaine Keane, Dr Trevor Clarke and Kathie Lane
Aspect Practice ‘Transition’ newsletter and podcast
To download Aspect Practice’s Transition Conversations newsletter and podcast, click here.