Class to Class

August means back to school, transitions, and changes in routines. Many autistic learners find it difficult to cope with these changes; they prefer the predictability of a routine and cope better with structured activities. When supporting autistic learners with class to class transitions it is essential that initially the day’s activities are planned ahead and communicated to them. Many children will need visual aids to help them. These ‘planners’ can help to decrease anxiety and ensure the child understands the order of activities thus preventing confusion and distress.

Information must be made available to the all of the child’s teachers through the school’s confidential information sharing system, and they must access it.
It is extremely important that all teachers and support staff working with children who require additional support needs are aware of the learner’s support needs and profile. They also need to use the suggested strategies developed through the transition planning and information on their learner’s profile. 

The environmental layout in different classrooms can have a positive and negative impact on the individual learner. Different subjects and the experiences in them also provide a range of impacts as does the variety of teaching approaches. While classroom transitions can be difficult and stressful for autistic learners they can also provide positive opportunities when moving from one subject/topic to another if this is an area in which they are interested.

Supporting class to class transitions

During planning discussions with the family, colleagues and the learner consider giving a 5-minute warning prior to the end of class to prepare for the transition. This might be a verbal signal, a visual signal or both.  

Giving time to pack up and transition from one class to another a few minutes earlier than others benefits some learners. This can avoid many issues related to busy, noisy corridors and allow time to organise themselves for next lesson. Entering an area (e.g. lunch hall, assembly) earlier before noise builds up can be helpful as some autistic learners might find it hard to cope with loud noise. Gradually build up time in the noisier area.

Ensure that all class teachers and staff who have contact with the class have access to the learner’s profile and are aware of the agreed strategies which support the learner and maximise their inclusion and participation in the class. 

Where the learner has more than one teacher communication between the learner’s  teachers is important. Different subject areas will present different opportunities for autistic learners to demonstrate their strengths and also experience challenges. Strategies and approaches which work well in one subject area can be shared and may be beneficial in another class. 

Effective communication between pupil support /support for learning and class teachers is also vital. Class teachers are aware of the behaviour and emotionality of all their learners as they enter their classroom and at the start of the lesson . They can pick up if there has been any tension or difficulties experienced by their autistic learners as they have walked between classes and can discuss this with colleagues and the learner to improve and hopefully resolve the issues.