Dr. Kerry Bull to speak at APAC Conference

Noah’s Ark’s Dr. Kerry Bull will be speaking on: ‘Early transitions – who needs to be ready?’

For all children, early transitions can be significant and challenging. For children with ASD, transitions can be even more challenging due to the a complex range of factors including resistance to change, difficulties with social interactions and communication and the child’s thinking and learning style.

One of the early and most significant transitions in a young child’s life is the move from the safety, routine and predictability of the family to a pre-school setting. The transition to primary school is often the next significant transition as the child learns to navigate a much larger and diverse school community.

How well children are prepared for this transition is important as it impacts on their long-term outcomes. However, readiness for pre-school or school includes four interrelated components:

  1. children’s readiness
  2. the pre-school or school’s readiness for children,
  3. the needs of families, and:
  4. communities that provide developmental opportunities for children (Kagan & Rigby, 2003)

Currently, many services focus their efforts on the child’s readiness through intensive transition programs that typically comprise a weekly centre-based program prior to school entry. These programs bring small groups of children with ASD together to learn skills (e.g. completing worksheets, taking turns) and routines (e.g. lining up, stopping and listening when the bell rings). These programs fail to address the other key elements:

  • ready families – emotional support, information needs and communication;
  • ready schools – information and collaboration;
  • the child’s functional learning in natural environments with their peers;
  • generalising learning from one environment to another; and,
  • the child’s early transition to pre-school

This presentation will discuss the four elements of readiness and introduce the child’s voice to the conversation in order to consider the range of adaptations pre-schools, schools and communities can make to support inclusion and participation of children with ASD.

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