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Please be aware that this section contains information prepared in 2009 and may now be out of date. Some links may no longer work. We are reviewing this section.


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Case studies


What does transition mean?
The word ‘transition’ means the movement from one thing to another. In the context of your school life this might mean travelling from home to school each day or from one lesson to another. People also talk about ‘transition’ when they are describing the change from one phase in your life to another. For example, from early childhood to school when you are 4 years old, from primary school to secondary school when you are 11 years old and from secondary school to work, or higher education when you are 16 years old. All these ‘transitions’ are important milestones in your life and can be very difficult to understand and manage.

What are the main transition phases I should expect?
The key education transition phases in any child’s life are:

  • Starting pre-school or playschool at 2.5 – 3 years
  • Starting primary school at 4 years
  • Moving up to a new year group
  • Moving between key stages , for example from key stage 1 to key stage 2 which, in some schools, may also involve a move from the Infant School building to the Junior School building
  • Moving from primary school to secondary school at 11 years
  • Either leaving school at 16 years or moving to further education
  • Either leaving further education at 18/19 years or moving to higher education (University) or an adult service
  • Leaving higher education
  • Finding work

In addition to these key education transitions, we all have to cope with changes in our environment and ourselves. Again, these can be particularly difficult if you have autism or Asperger syndrome. These changes might include moving house, changing the route you use to get to school or going through puberty in your early teen years.

Who can help me cope with transition?
There are lots of people who want to help you cope with change and the most important thing to do is talk to them about what is worrying you. Everyone can find change difficult but talking about it can help and you shouldn’t feel isolated or alone in coping with things which make you anxious. You might talk to your parents or carers. You might have an older brother or sister who can give you support. Or you might have a teacher you trust who can help you develop coping strategies for some of the things which are worrying you.

It is also important that the people who have been teaching and caring for you in one phase of your life talk to and share information with the people who will be teaching and caring for you in the next phase. This will reduce your need to explain what you like and don’t like to a new set of people and will hopefully reduce your anxiety levels.

We have listed a few links below to organisations which offer help and advice to children and remember you can always talk to your parents, carers or teachers about things which are worrying you.

What is the Government doing to help?
In May 2007 the Government launched ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’ which is a set of guidelines, recommendations and funding aimed at improving all disabled children’s services in England. One of the key areas being targeted is the need to improve services for disabled children during their transition to adult life. To address this, the Government announced the Transition Support Programme, which aims to raise the standards of transition support across England. The Programme is now up and running and hopefully improvements will follow shortly. We have included a link to the Transition Support Programme website in the Help section below.

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Get help from...

Childline 0800 1111 UK wide free and confidential helpline for children. You can talk to ChildLine about anything – no problem is too big or too small.

The Autism Helpline 0845 070 4004 Confidential support for people with autism

Arfur Moe's Transition Workbook A fun illustrated guide for children and young people to help them plan for and cope with educational transitions.

DirectGov - information for young disabled people Information for young disabled people about creating a Transition Plan and making the move into adulthood.

DirectGov - Information for young people Information for young people about their school choices between the ages of 14 and 19.

Making Choices About Leaving School A useful information sheet about making choices after leaving school – see below for link to the Thinkpad which can help you work through your own choices.

Making Choices About Leaving School THINKPAD

Transition Information Network A website dedicated to providing information about all the different transition phases you are likely to face, including an education section.

Transition Support Programme This website is aimed at education professionals, but you may find some of the information useful, including a link to Trans Map: from theory into practice, published in May 2009.

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Information for children and young people:
Changing Schools: the basics Advice from Need2Know – a website offering children and young people advice and help about all sorts of topics and issues which might affect them.

First day at a new school Advice from Need2Know - a website offering children and young people advice and help about all sorts of topics and issues which might affect them.

Information for parents and professionals:
Strengthening the social network of students with autism/communication difficulties with the help of their peers through the participation in a Social Art Group during the transition from Primary to Secondary School
Author: Eleni G Konstantinidou
Published by: Department of Education, University of Strathclyde
Date: 2006

Breaking Down Barriers to Learning Practical strategies for achieving successful transition for students with autism and Asperger syndrome
Author: Diana Ennis and Cath Manns
Published by: The National Autistic Society, Surrey County Council’s Children’s Service, Partnership with Parents, South East Region SEN Partnership
Date: 2004

NAS Information Sheet Education: moving from primary to secondary school
NAS Information Sheet Education: understanding difficulties at break time and lunchtime
NAS Information Sheet Transition: planning at the age of 14 (England and Wales)

Using social stories to ease children's transitions
Author: Jennifer Briody and Kathleen McGarry
Published by: The National Association for the Education of Young Children
Date: 2005

Music improves morning transitions for children with autism
Extract from: Use of songs to promote independence in morning greeting routines for young children with autism, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Author: Kern P., Wolery M., & Aldridge D. (in press)
Published by: The University of North Carolina
Date: 2006

Transition from Primary to Secondary Schools Information from Stroud Autistic Support Group


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Case studies

ASD Good Practice Guide - transitions Transition examples from the ASD Good Practice Guide on the Teachernet website

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