Preparation for senior school
Key themes in supporting pupils with ASD transition to secondary school:
Transition support packages must always be specific to the individual child and their needs; however below are a list of generalised findings to summarise the main concerns that have historically been expressed by parents and carers, the children, the new schools and the existing schools as well as areas we should address prior to the transition.
To create a successful secondary school transition for our ASD pupils we should:
- Provide children with extended transitions (visits to their new school, tours, early access to timetables etc);
- Ensure pupils understand they have autism and how that affects them as an individual (to support their understanding of self);
- Give pupils an awareness of their own needs and give them strategies to support themselves (Zones of Regulation can support this);
- Ensure new staff have a good understanding of ASD and are collaborated with prior to the child moving schools (this can be via the current school, parents and carers or both to help the staff understand how best to support the child);
- Give the child some control over the changes, for example: what route would they like to take to get there, which padlock would they like for their locker (if applicable), what style of shoe do they want out of a group of suitable options?
In addition, we can provide children with the following resources and techniques to support their anxieties:
- Provide multiple short social stories that we give to the child over an extended period of time so as not to overwhelm them (this can include pictures of the site, the new staff the child will encounter, the homework package expected of them, a summary of behaviour policies and bullying policies);
- Have regular check-ins using the Zones of Regulation to gather any questions or worries that may have arisen after a lesson or support resource;
- Have regular, positive discussions about the secondary school and relate it to the current setting. Express your excitement about the upcoming transition often this will help to soothe the transition nerves and help the child feel that the new school will be an extension of their existing one, rather than something completely new and frightening.
Parents are a vitally important source of support in preparing children for the transition to secondary school, and their expressions of warmth and affection have a long-term influence on how self-controlled children are which in turn affects how well they do at secondary school both in academic and behavioural spheres (Riglin et al. 2013).
We must always be particularly mindful of our children with ASD and the additional anxieties and/or barriers that they may face. These should then be addressed on an individual basis with parents and/or carers and staff being conscious that they are sensitive to the child’s level of comfort surrounding transitions.
If you wish to discuss transitions, please contact our child’s class teacher or Miss Sussemilch for further information, support or advice.