Transitions

What are transitions?

Change is often difficult for many people on the autism spectrum. This is due in part because of difficulty in flexibility of thought, and anxiety linked to the unknown, common in many people with autism. People on the autism spectrum have difficulties in predicting what might happen in a new setting so often prefer to stick with what is familiar.

In terms of transitions within education, it can be a challenging time for everyone, whether we have positive expectations and look forward to making a change, or perhaps feeling worried, nervous or even frightened. Because of challenges in processing the environment, and preference for predictability, transitions can promote high levels of anxiety in pupils with autism. It can be very difficult for some pupils to imagine what might happen next and may result in unusual behaviours or responses. Staff, pupils and parents need clear information about transitions and any support requirements.

There are numerous types of transition that occur throughout the day, the school term, the year and across the lifespan. It is not always the major transitions that have the most impact on pupils on the spectrum but all need to be considered and planned for where possible. At the very least, coping with transition needs to be recognised as a potential for increase in stress for pupils and their families. Transitions should be planned well in advance and suggestions below might be implemented over months, or in transition from primary to secondary, secondary to future destinations, over a year.

Transitions