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Talking about transitions

It's time to think about next year.

“Children with autism hate change” is something that you often hear. This is not quite true. Change can cause anxiety especially when it is out of their control.

However, transitions – if done well - can have positive affects on learning and social development. Children learn to rely on routines in one particular place. While this can support their anxiety, it also makes them quite rigid and they don’t explore new ways of doing things. If they feel comfortable in their new environment, they can often make rapid progress at the start of a year.

If at all possible, involve the student in the transition. Ask them what will help them. If they have had input into the decisions, they are more likely to feel in control.

Positive transitions depend on the child that you are working with – they are all very different in how they respond. Sometimes this is personality and at other times it is experiences that create their attitude.


Early decisions about placement and good planning are crucial. You will need:

  • A profile of the student and comprehensive background information about what works, what doesn’t and how they communicate. The first module of our online course is an ideal place to develop this in conjunction with the student’s parents, teachers and other learning support staff.

  • Observations by the new teacher of the student in their current classroom. This gives staff valuable insights into the child’s current interests, how they play, interact and communicate and strategies used with the child. Visit/s to the new space before school finishes and again before it starts again.

  • Discussion and handover of any resources such as timetables, timers, sensory toys and any other visuals. A calming space or box with activities that support their emotional regulation.

  • An environmental scan to identify any potential sensory issues such as bright lights, small motors, busy corridors and lunchbox odours near the cubbies.

  • A video that shows the physical space, toilets, people who will be in the space. A video is ideal as they can play it over and over during the break. Make sure that the space has people in it and looks the same as it will when the student starts.

  • Timetable showing the routine – in particular things that will be the SAME as in their current space. A photo book showing people who will be in their classroom including students they know, teacher support staff and relievers.

  • A social story or FAQ addressing questions such as why they need to move, what will be the same, what might be different, what can they do if they are feeling anxious.

Register for our online course. Complete Module 1 – Develop a Profile this term with the current and the new teacher. Use Module 2 – How can we Help to set goals to support the transition and ongoing learning. Once the team knows the student they can develop an emotional regulation and behaviour support plan in Module 3. You continue to have access once the course is finished, so you can return for more ideas and resources into the future. Set up a whole school registration for only $300.


Go to the Sign up page or download the application


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