Living With Autism: Going to Middle School (page 2)

By — Autism Society
Updated on Jan 25, 2012

Step III. Preparing the parent

The elementary school team can:

  • discuss with parents how they can assist their child over the summer to become ready for the transition
  • share materials to familiarize parents and the student with the new school (e.g., map, student handbook, lunch menu, yearbook)
  • discuss how parents can communicate with the new teachers to ensure an easy transition; provide information about school activities and faculty expectations regarding homework
  • identify parent support and booster groups so that  parents can become involved in school-sponsored  activities
  • remind parents of school personnel serving as  the case manager or primary contacts, and establish  contact
  • discuss developing an ongoing means of communication with the middle school contact person and other staff

Step IV. Preparing the Student

The parents or school team can: 

  • write a social story or series of stories to help the student prepare for the change
  • allow the student to have as many visits to the new school as needed
  • practice walking the route to classes while the building is empty, or even make a video identify important areas, including a safe haven, bus stop, homeroom, bathrooms, cafeteria and gym
  • provide opportunities to practice opening and  closing his or her locker 
  • help the student understand school rules (even the unwritten ones)
  • review the yearbook to familiarize the student with the faculty and school activities during the year
  • take the student to parent-student orientation
  • practice scripts so that the student knows where to get help and how to ask for assistance
  • practice requesting to go to a quiet place to calm down; practice the route to get to that place
  • prepare the student to understand that each teacher has different rules and procedures, and that the student will need to be flexible with each teacher’s rules
  • buy a special notebook with dividers that will help the student stay organized
  • ask for orientation and mobility training at the IEP meeting (Sayers, 2006)
  • ask for assistive technology, such as a tape recorder, for documenting the student’s homework (Sayers, 2006)
  • ask for a laptop computer, such as an alpha Smart, to assist a child with poor writing skills (Sayers, 2006)
  • arrange a carpool with another student(s) so that the child with ASD is not walking into school alone (Say- ers, 2006)
  • obtain books and other resources about middle school issues and social rules (Sayers, 2006).

Step V.  Preparing the Staff

The middle school or autism support team can:

  • inform the teaching staff as soon as possible that they will be receiving a student with ASD
  • plan how teachers will be prepared, informed and supported
  • provide staff with an information packet that includes the names of videos, books and web sites about ASD
  • identify whom to contact if staff have questions or problems 
  • identify an older student who can serve as a mentor to the student with ASD during the new school term; have the children meet and spend some time getting acquainted prior to the start of school
  • assist staff and aides so they are ready with adaptations/modifications for the first week
  • advise staff that they will need to closely monitor comprehension of material, since many students with ASD excel at memorizing information without processing or understanding it
  • plan to meet often as a group/support team to proactively and quickly solve problems
  • discuss expectations with parents regarding the amount of homework and their role in meeting due dates and completing assignments
  • negotiate the best method of quick and reliable communication between parents and school personnel

While this list is geared toward the needs of the student who will be active in the general education classroom,  many of the same steps are appropriate for the student who will be in a more restrictive program. This list is not all-inclusive, and individual steps should be added to meet the needs of specific students and their school system. many of the same strategies will be needed when preparing for the transition from middle school to high school.


Sayers, B. (2006). Transitioning Into Middle School. Bellaonline Autism Spectrum Disorders Site. (Available at


Carter, E., Clark, N., Cushing, l., & Kennedy, C. (2005). Moving from elementary to middle school: Supporting a smooth transition for students with severe disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 37(3), 8-14.

Dana, T. (2005). Fitting in & Having Fun: Moving on to middle school: Vol. 2. td Social Skills. (DVD). (Available at

Frohoff, K. (July/August 2004). A team approach to transitioning students with autism from elementary to middle school. Autism Asperger’s Digest Magazine.

Myles, B.S., & Adreon, D. (2001). Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence: Practical solutions for school success. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.

Palmer, A. (2005). Realizing the college dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome: A parent’s guide to student success. (pp. 26-30). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Wagner, S. (2002). Inclusive Programming For Middle School Students with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons, Inc.

Autism Society of America: The Voice of Autism. 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 300 Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3067 Phone: 301.657.0881 or 1.800.3AUTISM Fax: 301.657.0869 Web:

This material was reproduced with support and permission from the  indiana resource Center for Autism (irCA). Visit

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