I recently asked teachers to name key things they would like to know about a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who was about to come into their class or year level. These discussions revealed some common suggestions:
- What are the behaviour triggers for the child?
- What are their likes and interests?
- How much work can they realistically do before they need a ‘brain break’?
- Is food an issue? If so how?
- What type of students do they work with best?
- What is their learning style?
I used this information to fine-tune a draft transition template I have been developing to assist teachers and other school professionals to inform class transition or school transfer. The end of the school year (or very early in the new school year) is an ideal time to complete such a profile to assist the next teacher/s.
Autism and its prevalence
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder, with onset in the early developmental period.  It continues across the life span, with a broad spectrum of strengths and difficulties. Around 1 in 100  Australians are currently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In recent years, the diagnosis of autism has increased. It is believed heightened awareness and access to diagnosis may have contributed to an increase in reporting rates.
The word spectrum reflects the wide range of different abilities that people with ASD exhibit.  The symptoms can range from mild to severe with co-existing conditions. In some children, ASD can co-exist with intellectual disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and in some instances other medical issues.
Autism: one spectrum or many sets of challenges and capabilities?
Individuals with autism have a range of capabilities. Some may exhibit strengths such as in art, mathematics, music or a special interest area. Most people with ASD including children, experience other conditions, for example, anxiety, conversation and communication difficulties, black-and-white thinking, restricted interests and play skills, social communication difficulties, intellectual processing difficulties, sensory intolerances and poor sleep. Hence, each child with ASD, like all children is an individual who has specific needs, interests and talents.
A multidimensional framework helps us to better understand and support children with autism particularly with individual teaching and learning needs, transitions, assessment  and management of challenges and wellbeing. Some children will grow into independent adults, while others will require lifelong support and care.
The Psych4Schools ‘Transition profile to assist in supporting a child with ASD’
This draft profile has been based on research we have been undertaking, along with my own knowledge base, review of psychological reports, experience in the classroom and in private practice, coupled with professional learning and peer supervision.
We invite Psych4Schools members to further trial the profile. See, Transition profile to assist in supporting a child with ASD, in the Learning difficulties package, located in the Member’s Area.
Please email any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Psych4Schools Psychologist/Guidance Officer