Transitions are often difficult for children with autism, particularly those at the lower functioning end of the autism spectrum, for whom it is more difficult to explain major changes in their lives. When we moved from our old house to our current home in December 2005 we prepared Conor with a storybook with pictures of "old house" and "new house" and we took him for drives over to the new house to see it several times before making the move. It went well.
Tuesday will be Conor's first day at Nashwaaksis Middle School after 6 years, K-5, at Nashwaaksis Memorial School. All summer we worked with Conor trying to get him ready for the transition to Middle School. Fortunately, the Middle School also hosts two community events the Fredericton Indoor Pool which has been like a second home for Conor who loves to swim and a public library which Conor has visited often with his therapists. We visited Middle School with Conor and toured the school earlier in the summer and did so again this week. We were able to introduce him to his Methods and Resource teacher and show him the area where he will be spending most of his time.
Conor is fortunate to have two Teacher Assistants who will work with him for on shifts for most of the school day who have received training at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training Program. One of them is a TA who worked with him his last year of grade school which should help ease the transition. The Resource Teacher working with Conor this year has also received AIT training and has substantial autism intervention experience. Nothing is guaranteed, particularly with such a big transition, but there is much reason to be hopeful - and thankful - as Conor starts his transition to Middle School.