Starting school with ASD

Transition is a term used to describe the movement from one set of circumstances to another. It requires the ability to adapt to the changed circumstances in the environment and to those in it. This is an area of particular challenge for children with ASD as they can become rigid in their responses to their environment and those within it. Moving from an early intervention or kinder program will have its challenges, as schools are much larger environments with many more people that your child will have to interact with.


It is therefore necessary to consider a number of things about the transition process:

  • Planning is required to reduce anxiety
  • It will continue throughout life for the child
  • Transition may create disruption for the child during the day, from year to year in school
  • Transition requires planning at key points in life, school and post school pathways
  • Transition requires time and planning for change
  • Requires a team approach

To assist your child’s transition to primary school the following general points need to be thought about;

  • What are the potential transition issues from home to school and from school to home or after school activities?
  • What level of organisation is required to reduce my child’s level of anxiety?
  • How well does my child manage a change of plans that may occur during a school day and do they accept that change is okay?

A conversation with school staff prior to the start of the year will be helpful. Ask that they assist you by providing the following;

  • A copy of the class timetable
  • Where possible alert you to any staffing changes
  • A map of the school layout identifying the assembly points, toilets, rooms and play spaces your child will access
  • Have a checklist of things to ask for

As a parent your role in the transition to primary school is vital. Consider collating the following to share with the school and class teacher in support of your child’s successful transition;

Transition to primary school will be the first of many throughout your child’s life. Building in support structures in this first year of transition from early intervention or kinder programs will help your child to adapt to future transitions that will occur.

Transition will occur for them throughout the school day, when moving from one space within the classroom to another, one lesson to another, from inside to outside, outside to inside, to different rooms throughout the school and to working with different staff. If you are able to think about these transitions down to the very basic levels of change and plan for the potential outcomes, then you will be able to help your child to adapt, which will lead to their future resilience to manage change. Work with school staff to understand the potential changes that could occur during the day and troubleshoot any potential challenges that could arise.

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