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(From the book Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence by Myles and Adreon)

Creating a Successful Middle and High School Experience for Youth with Asperger Syndrome


Conducting or Reviewing Assessments
checkbox Ensure that all staff who will be working with the youth understand the student’s strengths and concerns.

Choosing Next Environment
checkbox Visit different types of programs or programs at different schools to determine appropriate placement options.

Transition Planning Meeting
checkbox Create the student’s schedule. Careful attention should be paid to choosing specials and creating opportunities for “downtime” where the student can engage in preferred activities to decrease anxiety levels.
checkbox Create, review, and/or revise the IEP or 504 Plan to ensure that all necessary adaptations and modifications are included (i.e., homework, class work, lunch, physical education, before- school activities).
checkbox Identify a teacher or administrator who will serve as the primary school contact for the parent to discuss any problems or changes that may occur.
checkbox Identify a team of individuals at the school who will serve as “safe persons.”
checkbox Schedule dates and content of training sessions for school personnel. Plan to complete all training before the first day of school – if possible, before student orientation.
checkbox Plan an orientation schedule for the student. Many schools provide a general orientation for all students transitioning to middle school in the spring of the final year of elementary school. Students with AS need a more extensive orientation process than typical students. Suggestions for orientation activities are provided under Student Orientation. The majority of the orientation activities may be conducted during the week before the start of the school year.

Training for School Personnel
checkbox Conduct a general orientation for all personnel at the school.
This training session should:
checkbox Overview the characteristics of individuals with AS.
checkbox Provide information on the specific behavioral, academic, and emotional concerns of the student.
checkbox Include all teachers, counselors, administrators, office staff, cafeteria workers, security, etc. who will have contact with the students.
checkbox Provide training on how to implement the strategies determined during the transition planning meeting and/or included in the student’s IEP or 504 Plan. All teachers, counselors, and administrators in contact with the student should be present.
This training session should include information on:
checkbox The specific, step-by-step procedure the student can use to seek out the safe person and get to home base
checkbox The procedure to be followed for behavioral problems
checkbox The procedure for ensuring that homework assignments are recorded and that required materials are brought home
checkbox How to implement all academic modifications, accommodations, and supports
checkbox Any other needs or issues that require discussion

Student Orientation
checkbox Provide a walk-through of the student’s daily schedule. In schools where the schedule changes from day to day, the student should have the opportunity to practice all possible schedules. If applicable, student “buddies” should be available to walk through the schedule with the student with AS.
The following are suggestions for the walk-through:
checkbox Provide visual/written class schedule(s) for the student.
checkbox Videotape a walk-through school schedule for the student to review at home.
checkbox Practice route(s) from various classes to the bathroom, counselor’s office, home base, etc.
checkbox Meet all teachers and relevant personnel.
checkbox Provide the student with pictures and names of all teachers in advance of the orientation.
checkbox Provide the student with pictures and names of all support personnel, such as safe person, counselors, special education coordinators, assistant principals and principal, in advance of the orientation.
checkbox Provide the student with pictures and names of all additional personnel, such as cafeteria workers, school nurse, etc.
checkbox Provide the student with pictures and names of student “buddies.”
checkbox Show the student where her assigned seat in each classroom will be.
checkbox Obtain information about school routines and rules (i.e., lunch, going to bathroom, before/after school, transportation).
checkbox Provide instruction on the procedure for seeking out the safe person and home base.
checkbox Practice use of transition to home base through role-play.


checkbox Determine whether priming will help meet the student’s need for predictability.
checkbox Analyze student needs and classroom demands to determine which classes will require priming.
checkbox Identify who will prime.
checkbox Designate whether priming will use actual or similar materials.
checkbox Determine where and when priming will occur.

Classroom Assignments
checkbox Determine the student’s needs concerning assignments.
checkbox Provide the student with extra time to complete assignments.
checkbox Shorten the length of assignments.
checkbox Reduce the number of assignments.
checkbox Break assignments into smaller segments.
checkbox Provide samples/models of completed assignments and/or a list of specific criteria for successful completion.
checkbox Allow the student to use the computer for schoolwork and/or homework.
checkbox Allow the student to demonstrate mastery of concepts through alternate means (dictate essays, oral tests, etc.).

Note Taking
checkbox Indicate the type of note taking supports needed by the student.
checkbox Provide a complete outline.
checkbox Give student a skeletal outline.
checkbox Identify a peer who can take notes for the student.
checkbox Allow student to use outlining software.

Graphic Organizers
checkbox Determine whether graphic organizers are needed to facilitate skill acquisition and maintenance.


checkbox Conceptual
checkbox Sequential
checkbox Cyclical
checkbox Other
checkbox Determine who will construct and provide organizer to student:
  checkbox Teacher
checkbox Peer
checkbox Student with Template
checkbox Student with outlining softwar

checkbox Determine the type of enrichment needed:

Specify how the enrichment area will be identified.

checkbox Determine when and how enrichment will be provided.
checkbox Decide whether a learning contract with specified working conditions is needed.

checkbox Identify which class subjects will include homework responsibilities.
checkbox Determine homework modifications:

Present homework assignments visually (on board, etc.) in addition to orally.

checkbox Provide the student with a homework sheet or planner.
checkbox Provide student with the assignment in written format.
checkbox Reduce the amount of homework.
checkbox Provide a study hall period to allow the student time to complete homework at school.
checkbox Identify home strategy for completing homework:
  checkbox Designate place and time for homework completion.
checkbox Define organization to get homework back to school.
checkbox Name contact if additional clarification on homework is needed.


checkbox Identify who will teach the student the bus routine.
checkbox Determine who will provide assistance for the student when the bus arrives at school, particularly on the first day. Have a peer or school staff greet the student at the bus and accompany him to the bus at the end of the day.
checkbox Determine how long assistance will be needed in getting to and from the bus throughout the school year.
checkbox Identify the peer or school personnel to be assigned to assist the student in this process, including backups.
checkbox Provide a pickup or drop off closer to the student’s house.
checkbox Provide adult supervision at the bus stop.
checkbox Provide a peer “buddy” from the student’s neighborhood to wait with the student at the bus stop and sit with her on the bus.
checkbox Provide preferential seating on the bus. This may include seating the student in close proximity to the driver or allowing her to sit in her own seat/row.
checkbox Provide a monitor or aide on the bus.
checkbox Provide a special bus.

Physical Education
checkbox Consider whether to exempt the student from physical education and, if so, substitute another special or a study hall. This is particularly important if poor motor skills have led to teasing or rejection by peers.
checkbox Assign the student a specific role for PE such as scorekeeper, equipment manager, etc. This allows him to participate in PE, but minimizes the motor and social demands of plying a sport.
checkbox Assign teams rather than allow students to choose teams themselves.
checkbox Have school personnel monitor, as least twice weekly, the student’s perceptions of the PE period by asking her how she feels it is going.
checkbox Help the student problem-solve difficulties.

checkbox Have school personnel available during the first week of school to assist the student in navigating the cafeteria line, finding a place to sit, and engaging in an appropriate activity once he has finished eating.
checkbox Help the student identify school personnel whom she can approach during the lunch period when encountering problems.
checkbox Have school personnel closely monitor the student’s interactions with peers and intervene when problems occur.
checkbox Have school personnel closely monitor the student and intervene when she becomes stressed and overwhelmed or begins to experience sensory overload.
checkbox Have school personnel monitor, as least twice weekly, the student’s perceptions of the lunch period by asking the student how he/she feels it is going.
checkbox Help the student problem-solve any difficulties.
checkbox Provide assigned seating with a preferred friend, away from problem peers and/or near adult supervision.
checkbox Provide peer “buddy/buddies” during lunchtime.
checkbox Allow the student to leave the cafeteria once he has finished eating to engage in a calming or preferred activity (e.g., go to media center, computer lab).
checkbox Allow the student to eat lunch in an alternative location if necessary (e.g., counselor’s office, media center).

Changing Classes
checkbox Provide peer or teacher assistance (particularly during the first week of school) to help the student manage the crowded hallways, open locker, locate the proper materials, and find the correct classroom.
checkbox Provide a peer “buddy” to accompany the student during class changes if he continues to experience difficulty during this time. This “buddy” might assist the student with organizational issues, protect against teasing/bullying by other students, and help promote positive social interactions.
checkbox Provide the student with additional time for class changes.
checkbox Allow alternate passing time when the hallways are free from other students. For example, the student might change classes before or after the general transition period.

Changes in Routine
checkbox Specify whether the student needs to be informed of any changes in typical classroom procedures (assemblies, fire drills, guest speakers, seating changes, substitute teacher).
checkbox Determine what additional supports the student needs when changes occur.

Before and After School
checkbox Identify when the student should arrive at school.
checkbox Determine whether a specific room will be used during this time.
checkbox Identify peers to support the student at this time.
checkbox Provide structured activities.


Preferential Seating
checkbox Determine if preferential seating is necessary:

Identify location.

checkbox Identify peers who can support student.

Organizational Strategies
checkbox Determine the student’s needs concerning organization of papers and materials.
checkbox Provide assistance in organizing the backpack, locker, and/or desk and teach the student to do so independently.
checkbox Teach the student to use timelines.
checkbox Instruct the student on how to develop a to-do list.

Home Base
checkbox Identify when home base will be used:

Before school or early morning

checkbox Following specific classes
checkbox At the end of the day
checkbox Determine cue to prompt home base.
checkbox Determine home base location.
checkbox Identify activities that will occur during home base.

Safe Person
checkbox Identify a safe person.
checkbox Determine the role of the safe person, to possibly include:

Social skills training

checkbox Social skills interpretation
checkbox Active listening
checkbox Calming of the student
checkbox Sensory support

Visual Supports
checkbox Identify which supports are needed:

Map of school outlining classes

checkbox List of classes, room numbers, books, and other supplies
checkbox List of teacher expectations and routines for each class
checkbox Outlines and notes from lectures
checkbox Model of assignments
checkbox Test reminders
checkbox Schedule changes
checkbox Homework instructions
checkbox Cue to home base

Travel Card
checkbox Identify special educator role.
checkbox Determine student role.
checkbox Identify general educator participation.
checkbox Define parent role.


Hidden Curriculum
checkbox Identify hidden curriculum items.
checkbox Define who will teach hidden curriculum.
checkbox Determine when instruction will occur.

Circle of Friends
checkbox Provide awareness training to peers.
checkbox Identify peers to participate in Circle of Friends.
checkbox Determine when Circle of Friends is needed to support student.

Social Skills Instruction
checkbox Determine need for direct instruction:

Identify curricula.

checkbox Determine social skills instructor.
checkbox Determine when social skills instruction will occur.
checkbox Determine if acting lessons may support social skills instruction:
  checkbox Identify coach’s need for AS awareness training.
checkbox Provide awareness training to other student actors.
checkbox Consider whether social stories are a viable means of instruction:
  checkbox Identify individual who can create social stories.
  checkbox Determine how the need for a social story will be communicated.
  checkbox Determine who will monitor social story effectiveness.

Social Skills Interpretation
checkbox Determine social skills interpreter.
checkbox Ensure social skills interpreter knows how to use (a) cartooning, (b) social autopsies, (c) SOCCSS, and (d) sensory awareness.
checkbox Identify when student will have access to the social skills interpreter:

Scheduled time

checkbox As needed

Student Orientation
Getting used to change and new situations is always easier and less threatening given proper advance notice and preparation. Nowhere is this truer than for adolescents with AS who are transitioning to middle or high school. As we have mentioned through out this book, the AS student’s need for routine, sameness, and predictability is severely challenged during times of change. To reduce the student’s anxiety upon entering a new school at a very vulnerable age, a sound orientation program conducted well in advance of the actual transition is essential. Such orientation should include familiarization with the physical setting of the school and in grounds, introduction to all pertinent teachers and staff, and explanation of rules for behavior as well as academic performance (Adreon & Stella, 2001). As indicated in the checklist, other helpful topics of student orientation include meeting with peer “buddies” sharing names and possibly photos of “safe persons,” and so on.


The planning process described here may seem extensive and time-consuming. It is! For adolescents with AS, it is necessary that each of the items on the Transition Checklist be considered before the student moves into a new school environment. The complexity of Asperger Syndrome requires that parents and school professionals view all phases of the environment to ensure that modifications are in place to help the student have a successful school experience.

* Reproduced with permission from Keith Myles, Ph. D., President of Autism Asperger Publishing Company. For more information and related resources please see



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