Settling in

When a child starts in a setting, a good, effective transition will ensure that they settle well into their new environment.

For a child with autism, transitions can be an even more daunting.  Thorough planning and preparation is needed to ensure the best possible start.

The setting’s Local Offer should clearly detail staff knowledge and training for supporting children with SEND, along with information about what is already in place (and what adjustments can be made) to help a child transition effectively.

Prior to admission, staff should meet parents/carers to discuss the child’s strengths and any potential difficulties.  Collating ‘All About Me’ information is essential and should include input (where applicable) from other professionals involved in providing support and advice.

The transition to school document (see the Transitions page of the SEN Toolkit) is a useful starting point for collating much of the information and can be updated throughout the child’s time at the setting.

‘All About Me’ information should include:

  • The child’s likes and preferences
  • Factors that cause distress or frustration.  What helps to soothe the child at such times?
  • Communication methods used by the child, which may include: vocalising, signing, echolalia, gesturing, touching, hitting, kicking, crying
  • Child’s current level of understanding, eg responding to name, following a one or two step verbal instruction
  • Has the child had social interaction opportunities with siblings, friends, and other adults and how have they responded?
  • Play experiences and preferences.  Does the child play with trains, dolls, puzzles, play outside or use IT equipment?  Does the child play alone or with others?
  • Independence skills and self-help information, to include toileting, eating, drinking and sleeping
  • Sensory considerations, which will include reactions within the home and when out visiting familiar and unfamiliar places

Things to consider before the child starting in the setting:

  • Have all staff received sufficient training and information about autism?
  • Has information collated from ‘All About Me’ been analysed and shared with staff?
  • Have transition visits been arranged?
  • How will staff communicate regularly with parents / carers?
  • Has a staggered start been considered?  This could include starting before or after other children arrive
  • Have you reviewed your environment through the child’s perspective?
  • Is a quiet, calming space available?
  • Have you reviewed your approach to ‘whole group’ time?  Would an alternative smaller group time be more beneficial for the child?
  • Have you considered using visual cues and visual timetables?
  • Have you created a support plan with targets for the child’s learning?
  • Does planning include the child’s preferences and interests?
  • Will staff ‘enter the child’s world’, follow their lead and imitate their vocalisations and actions, where appropriate?
  • Have you thought about supporting the child to play and interact with others?
  • If the child is fixated on a particular object or activity, have you thought about how this can be included to extend their learning and interests further?
  • Have you considered contacting your advisor early years inclusion for support and advice?