Transition Planning for Students with Autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others. The severity of the condition varies as some people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may require significant support while others may be able to live more independently.

People with autism depend on routines to navigate social situations. A sudden shift to their environment or schedule can be disruptive. Perhaps the most dramatic change is attending school for the first time as everything is unfamiliar to them. Schools can develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for children with autism to ensure they receive an appropriate educational plan.

A required component of the IEP is preparing individuals as they transition into new stages. Here’s what you need to know about transition planning for students with autism.

What is Transition Planning?

Most of us are able to quickly adapt to new situations whether it’s starting a new job or moving to a different city. But these same scenarios can be particularly challenging for individuals with autism. It represents a massive shift in their usual routine.

Transition plans are required for students enrolled in an IED who are 14 years of age. The purpose of the plan – typically in the form of a chart – is to prepare students with autism for many of the changes they will face as they transition into new stages. Perhaps the most important is the transition from school to adulthood as students begin planning for what comes after high school.

The degree of severity of autism differs from one student to the next. Some students may have difficulty navigating social situations while others may struggle with certain tasks. For this reason, the needs of each student must be considered when creating a transition plan.

Transition plans are written to include goals that are specific to the student. Each goal typically has a timeline which could may take one month, six months, or even a year to complete. The focus is to address any shortcomings and gradually build up those skills until the student becomes more proficient on their own. 

An example of a goal with practical value is taking public transportation without assistance. It’s a tall order which is why many goals are given lengthy timelines. What makes a solid transition plan is that it should not only include a set of objectives but also a set of steps to meet them. In the case of taking public transportation, a parent may accompany their child as they learn to navigate how the bus system works.

What is Included in a Transition Plan?

As you prepare a transition plan for your student, you will need to consider the following areas:

  • Employment: What kind of job does your child want? It’s not too early to think about and start planning how you can teach your child the skills needed to navigate the workforce. Incorporate goals that focus on employment into the transition plan.
  • Post-secondary education: Will your child attend college after high school? Start thinking about what options are available for students with autism and what you can do to prepare them for the coursework. Speak with a school counselor so you have a better idea of what to expect.
  • Independent living: Does your child eventually want to live independently in the future? Think about the skills your child would need in order to live on their own (e.g. cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.) and incorporate those into the plan.
  • Social participation: Finally, how will your child be involved in their community? Think about what kind of skills they would need to be part of their local community and add them as goals to their transition plan.

Transitional planning is an important part of helping students with autism cope with new changes as they transition to different stages in their life. The more specific and measurable you can make the goal, the better.

Author’s Bio 

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including pest control, financial support and health care. As the owner of Integral Media, he is now utilising his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.

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