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Transition: autism additional guidance – Primary to Secondary and Secondary to Post-16 (appendix 2020)



The key to a successful and seamless transition is to ensure good communication between all of those involved and to keep the child central to the whole planning process.

For a CYP with Autism we also have to consider the four key areas of difference  and ensure that these differences are supported.

For example many CYP with ASC find change and transitions extremely difficult and seek high levels of structure, predictability and routine to feel safe and make sense of the world.

This may mean that greater attention/ awareness is needed to support all transitions during the CYP’s day including:

Spider diagram illustrating likely transitions during a child or young person's day

It is particularly important to consider that as a result of the four key areas of difference pupils with autism are likely to experience heightened anxiety in relation to:

  • Unknown situations
  • Understanding / responding appropriately to the expectations, demands and social rules of any environment, particularly when new and unfamiliar.
  • Understanding how to physically interact within any environment / context, particularly when new and unfamiliar.
  • Relating to new or unfamiliar contexts and staff.
  • Interpreting and acting on social cues
  • Predicting what might happen

All of these elements can have an impact on a pupil’s ability to modulate their levels of arousal and subsequently manage their self-regulation. As a result, pupils with autism will require a high level of structured support in order to access new environments and to approach change; subsequently it will be very important that they receive a particularly well planned and enhanced transition into any new educational setting.

Key areas for consideration

Strategy/Intervention Outcome sought
  • Pupil will require a carefully planned transition process into school / Post 16 provision, including supported visits with key people and the development of a workbook which includes important information in visual format. It will be important to explore how current systems which are having a positive impact for the pupil can be replicated in a new context.
  • Pupil will gather and assimilate key information in relation to the new setting which will reduce anxiety.
  • Previously successful support systems will be in place as appropriate to support the pupil’.



  • The use of visual resources will help to clarify what is to be done and will help the pupil to recall and retain information in relation to the expectations placed on them during the day in both academic and social contexts
  • The pupils will sequence his day and retain and recall information in relation to his transition and the demands that are placed on him.


  • The use of social narratives should be used to help the pupil to understand specific social contexts and what he can do in such situations and crucially to provide him with positive reassurance and affirmation. Comic Strip Conversations may be useful to assist the pupil to draw out and develop greater understanding about specific situations and could assist him in his understanding of difficult or key concepts in relation to transition. It is important that such approaches are personal to the pupil and that they have as much ownership of the process as possible. Social stories can provide information regarding transition that the pupil may be missing in relation to transition and provide a source of reassurance.
  • The pupil will develop his understanding of specific social contexts / situations in relation to transition and be able to respond appropriately.








  • It will be important that the pupil is helped to develop a relationship with key adults based at the secondary / Post 16 provision who he recognises as a source of support and guidance.
  • A personalised mentoring system will be established with frequency as appropriate.
  • Self-study / study periods may need a timetabled focus with mentor support.
  • The pupil will develop his confidence in working with key staff within the new setting.
  • The pupil will be part of an established forum to unpick worries as they arise and to minimise anxiety.
  • The pupil will understand the options / expectations regarding unstructured times / study periods.
  • The pupil will know where his ‘safe place’ is if he is anxious for any reason together with key points of contact.
  • Once transition is complete the pupil will know how to leave a stressful situation and go to their safe space.
  • All staff at Secondary school / College will be aware of the pupil’s needs and apply any strategies consistently. The development of a personal profile as recommended by the Autism Education Trust, would be a useful tool in facilitating this process.
  • There will be general staff understanding of pupil strengths and needs and subsequently a consistent approach in supporting the pupil’s needs.
  • Good home/school links will help to monitor the pupil’s moods and to develop a consistent approach in terms of strategies and help Adam to make links and generalise his skills in the long term.
  • Key points of contact established for home / school communication
  • Seek to identify school / college based anxieties which may be manifesting at home.
  • Consistent approaches established between home and school / Post 16 to facilitate generalisation of knowledge / skills by pupil.


Autism Education Trust: ‘Transition Toolkit’: › nas › autism-education-trust-transition-toolkit
‘Arthur Moe’ Example Workbook
‘Getting Ready for Secondary School’ (PiP) 
Transition Timeline Example 

Autism Education Trust: 

Schools National Standards and Competency Framework
Schools Training Programme
Details can be found here: 
Post 16 National Standards and Competency Framework
Post 16 Training Programme including ‘Transition from School to College’ module
Details can be found here:

The National Autistic Society: 

Transition Guidance:

The Communication and Interaction Team: 

Providing training, support and advice to settings: