How to Create a Student-Centered Transition Plan

A student-centered transition plan seeks to bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood for autistic young adults. We suggest building a program that centers around the student, meaning that education and skill-building are key. If you want to help your autistic student transition from adolescence to adulthood, you’ve come to the right place!

Start with a Conversation

Keep it honest and open. Everyone is different—where one student is excited to give college a try, another may feel nervous about the change. Find out where they’re coming from, and that can guide what you do next.

This is a big, exciting step! It’s normal to feel uncertain with new experiences on the horizon. Remind your student  that they aren’t alone. Friends and family are a stable source of support, and the autistic community is always willing to offer advice.

Determine Transition Goals

Now is the time to come together and figure out where your student is headed. There are three significant factors to consider:

Higher education

Employment

Independent living

Each factor comes with challenges, but these are opportunities to learn new skills. Once you know your autistic student’s  goals, you should work on designing a SMART plan. The SMART method takes you through the essential steps of goal setting to create objectives that are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely

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Troubleshoot and Adjust

When creating your SMART plan, be specific, and stick to direct statements. For example, “The student will learn how to type 20 words per minute.”

Even with set goals, your child will undoubtedly encounter challenges and struggles along the way. Don’t let hardships get your student down—have them assess the situation and adjust the objective if necessary. 

To adjust a challenging goal, we recommend digging into the root of the problem. Is typing 20 words per minute too complicated, or is there another factor standing in the way of success? Let your child get to the bottom of it and determine what changes are needed.

Trust Your Child

We understand—you want to be there at every step. It may be difficult, but the best thing to do is trust your autistic child to make their own choices. They may stumble along the way, but that’s a part of life for everyone. Be there to support them—not carry them.

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Encourage Self-Advocacy 

While self-advocacy is an essential skill to learn, it’s often one of the most difficult ones to achieve. When possible, encourage the student to speak up and try completing tasks independently. Some colleges offer accommodations in the classroom for autistic students—you may want to suggest looking for such a university.

Now that you understand how to create a student-centered transition plan for your autistic student, remember—you’re not alone. There are hundreds of resources available, plus an autism community network that’s always happy to lend a hand!

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