Planning for Successful Transitions Across Grade Levels
Transition is a natural part of all educational programs.
Students with and without disabilities must adjust to changes in teachers, classmates, schedules, buildings and routines. The transition from one grade to the next can be especially challenging for a student on the autism spectrum (ASD). However, these students can make this shift more easily with careful planning and preparation.
Thinking About Transition
When thinking about transition, sometimes it is helpful to start the process with a list of questions to act as a spring-board for discussion. some parents use similar questions when preparing for an iep meeting. other families like to hold family meetings with siblings and the individual with autism so that they can all share in the planning. Below is an example of such a list:
- What does your child like to do?
- What can your child do?
- What does your child need to explore?
- What does your child need to learn to reach his or her goals?
- What transportation will your child use to get to school and for extracurricular activities?
Many people think of school in terms of curriculum, but having friends and a sense of belonging in a community also is important. To address these areas, following are a few additional questions to consider:
- Are supports needed to encourage friendship?
- Do people in the school community know your son or daughter?
- Are supports needed to structure time for recreation? Exercise?
- Does your child have any special interests that others might share, which could lead to participating in extracurricular activities?
- Can you explore avenues for socializing with peers, such as religious affiliation or volunteer work?
Part of transition planning should be preparing the student to play an active role in all decisions that impact their life. The best place to begin this preparation is to have the student with asd involved all aspects of educational planning, including the transition process from the very beginning. as mentioned in student-led ieps (Mcgahee, mason, Wallace, & Jones, 2001), given the great variance of student ability, there is a wide range of options. some students may just be able to state or read part of their plan for the future to the iep team, others may go on to explain their disability, describe the need for accommodations, share their strengths and challenges (present levels of performance), and talk about plans for the future. The eventual goal is a student-led iep meeting (under the watchful eyes of the iep team). dealing with the paradigm shift from being advocated for through the IEP to having to advocate for oneself after high school requires much long-term work. starting the process of teaching self-advocacy ideally could begin before transition planning for school is mandated into the individual education plan (iep). providing students with a well-developed sense of self-advocacy through the process should be an integral part of education. doing so is vital for gaining a greater understanding of how to obtain the required accommodations upon entering the community, in higher education, employment, and relationships during adolescence and adulthood years.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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