Autistic children and young people can find transition very difficult. All pupils are involved in a range of transitions across the typical school day.
- large transitions: between school phases, changing year groups.
- medium transitions: from home to school/school to home, from class-time to break-time and vice versa.
- small transitions: from one activity to another, from one area to another, from inside to outside.
It is not always major transitions that have the most impact on pupils on the autistic spectrum, smaller transitions need to be considered and planned for where possible.
Teachers should regularly assess how transitions through the day impact the pupil with autism. Balancing the development of predictable and consistent transitions, whilst encouraging the pupil not to become too rigid in routines, is important. A variety of transition strategies are used to ensure pupils can move from one location to another, increase their independence, and more successfully participate in activities.
Transition strategies are used at Columbia Grange to support individuals with ASD before a transition occurs, during a transition, and/or after a transition, and can be presented verbally, auditorily or visually.
- Transition visits are planned into the summer term to alleviate pupils anxieties.
- They have at least four visits to their new classroom where they meet the rest of their class and the adults.
- Photograph boards are sent home for the holidays so that they can learn to identify the classroom staff
- All pupils have Personal Passports that staff update before the end of the academic year to ensure new teachers understand individual needs and strategies used to support them.
A successful transition from one education setting to another needs good communication between both schools.
We liaise between all feeder schools to arrange visits. The feeder school transition support worker visits CG to gain background knowledge including individual needs and strategies used to support them. Visits are then planned as appropriate e.g. Barbara Priestman made 3 visits and then pupils attended there for 2 half days and 3 full days, so that the pupils are familiar with the environment and teaching staff.
Home to school/school to home
At the beginning of the day, a member of SLT is on duty to deal with any problems related to transport, queries from parents and to ensure messages are delivered to the necessary staff members. A designated member of staff is on duty to mark children in and out as they arrive /leave school premises. LSA’s are available to meet and greet children and to escort pupils to their classes where necessary. At the end of the day pupils remain in their classrooms and buses/taxis are tannoyed as they arrive. Classes have their own procedures in place to ensure children are well regulated and prepared for the transition.
Most children are able to transition without difficulty but on occasion some children may need support. Staff reduce their language to use keywords e.g. classroom and home, they will also show the appropriate symbols. If a child drops to the floor staff will wait until they are ready to transition.
Class-time to break-time and vice versa
Children are given cues to signal the upcoming transition, e.g. visual timers are used so that children know how long they have left on an activity. Songs are used with some classes for tidying up, then lining up. For some children they will need a transition object, photo or symbol depending on their level of understanding. This allows children to see where they are expected to go and adds some predictability to their day.
MICRO SMALL TRANSITIONS
One activity to another
One area to another
Inside to outside (Continuous provision)
Songs/chants are frequently used with younger children and lower ability pupils. These are reinforced by the use of objects of reference, photos or symbols. Transition boards are also used showing which staff pupils are working with who and where. For some pupils one piece of visual information is sufficient for them to process, however for others, seeing a sequence of two activities enables them to better predict what will take place e.g. First/Then strategy. This often includes a non preferred activity followed by a preferred. Some children need to see a visual timetable that covers half or full day to alleviate their anxiety. This is kept in a central place within the classroom. Sometimes children need their own individual daily schedule that they can carry with them throughout the day.
WHICH PUPILS WILL ACCESS AND WHY?
All pupils will be involved in transitions throughout the day. A transition requires individuals to stop an activity, move from one location to another, and begin something new. Individuals with ASD have greater difficulty in shifting attention from one task to another and with changes of routine. Successful transitions result in well regulated pupils and a calm purposeful learning environment where pupils are actively engaged.
Unsuccessful transitions can manifest in a number of ways. It can take the form of resistance, avoidance, distraction, negotiation or a full blown meltdown. Some of these reactions are the result of being overwhelmed by their emotions or tactics they have learned to delay or avoid a transition.
A number of supports to assist individuals with ASD during transitions are used to prepare individuals before the transition will occur and to support the individual during the transition. When transition strategies are used, individuals with ASD:
- Reduce the amount of transition time;
- Increase appropriate behaviour during transitions;
- Rely less on adult prompting;
- Participate more successfully in school and during educational visits.