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Entering or Leaving A School

Entering or leaving a school is a major change for any student. For students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) this can be an extremely challenging change. People with ASD tend to seek structure, routine and predictability.

A well-written transition plan can assist teachers and families to provide structure and predictability which will support the student during this time of change.


Transition Plans

When a student with ASD is entering or leaving a school, a detailed transition plan is essential. A transition planning meeting should occur involving participants from both settings, families, and the student where appropriate. For staff in the new setting, gaining as much information about the student as possible should make planning much easier. An excellent tool for gathering information about the student is an individual profile (click here for an individual profile template).


Remember that the person who must to be provided with the clearest, most important information is the student themselves.


The student could be provided with:

  • a map of the new school and an opportunity to move through the school when it is quiet (after-hours, or when classes are in progress),
  • the names and pictures of the teachers who will be working with them,
  • a photo book of different places within the school such as the office, sick bay, toilets, classroom/s, the bus stop, etc.,
  • an explanation of what to do if they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious,
  • a pre-arranged buddy to meet with at break times,
  • a copy of the school rules (in a visual format if text is not appropriate). Ensure rules are stated positively. For example, rather than “no running”, say “walk safely when you are inside buildings”, and
  • a visual timetable which depicts the day/week’s structure. Click here to create and print a visual timetable.

Different details will be important to individual students, and these may not be the details we would predict. A thorough knowledge of the student is imperative.

For example, if a student finds physical transitions very difficult a visual map using photos may be of most use. Another student may barely notice physical transitions but may be very concerned about the location of possessions, such as where their school bag hangs or where they can keep a treasured item.


The best practice approach to transitions is a proactive one. Rather than addressing difficulties after they arise, it is best to have all of the information necessary well in advance and a number of support strategies in place before the transition begins. Some supports may then be reduced as the student becomes confident in their new environment. This provides the student with the best possible opportunity to make a positive start at the new school.