Service Delivery: Transition

A common characteristic of children with autism is difficulty with transition to new activities or situations. The transition from the local Infants and Toddlers Programs at age three and from preschool programs to elementary programs at age five or six presents many challenges for children, families, and professionals. A key aspect of effective programs is thoughtful preparation of the child and family for transition to new programs.

Successful transitions from local Infants and Toddlers Programs to preschool services and from preschool services to elementary school programs are the result of systematic planning, thorough implementation, and follow-up activities to ensure that the child and family move to the next intervention setting with minimal disruptions in service delivery. It is important to understand that both the child and the family are making the transition. Transition activities are designed to ensure that the child will succeed in the next program and that the family is a full partner in the decision-making process. Service providers can help guide parents in developing a repertoire of transition skills that can be applied to subsequent transitions throughout their children’s lives.

For successful transitions, it is important that all key personnel and stakeholders are involved in the transition process and understand their roles. In addition to the child and parents, key personnel include the current service providers as well as future administrators and service providers. Key activities in the transition process include:

• Identifying key personnel from the current and future programs;
• Developing a transition action plan which outlines activities, events, timelines, and
• Recommending necessary evaluations and assessments;
• Arranging for current service providers and parents to observe programs which may be considered;
• Modifying the child’s current program to be similar to the future environment;
• Visiting the future environment, if appropriate;
• Arranging for future service providers to observe the child in the current environment;
• Training future service providers, if needed;
• Scheduling necessary special education meetings and IEP reviews;
• Transferring records and other information to the receiving program; and
• Evaluating the transition process through follow-up activities. (HCPSS, 1999).

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