School Day Transitions (“Micro Transitions”)

All pupils are involved in a range of transitions across the typical school day. Such transitions can be considered micro transitions and include:

  • Moving from one task to another
  • From class-time to break-time and vice versa
  • From one area to another
  • From inside to outside 
  • From home to school/school to home
  • Between staff.

It is not always the major transitions that have the most impact on autistic learners and these micro transitions need to be considered and planned for wherever possible. Preparing autistic learners for a micro transition can vary widely, such as a trusted adult taking five minutes to explain why there has been change to the day, going to the assembly hall early to rehearse where you will sit before the hall is too busy, or creating a social story for an upcoming school trip or event. The most important factor is to consider the situation from the perspective of the learner, taking account of their strengths, difficulties and past experiences.

As the concept of time is often difficult for autistic learners, they can benefit from explicit visual cues or prompts to help them gauge the progress of the day and as they get older to manage their time. Examples of this can range from the practitioners giving a verbal reminder or countdown, incorporating a timer into a task or using a clock.

Practitioners should regularly assess how transitions through the day impact the autistic learner. Balancing the development of predictable and consistent transitions, whilst encouraging the learner not to become too rigid in routines, is important. Depending on the activity, environment and the specific needs and strengths of the individual, planning for transitions may be as important as curriculum planning.