School transitions can be stressful for children with ASD, their parents and teachers. Transitions are common, occurring each year as children move between grades, but the big transitions may hold greater importance. These occur when moving from one level of school to another…..from preschool to Kindergarten, from elementary to middle and middle to high school. Nearly all parents and children find these stressful, but for children with ASD, critical gains may be lost if interventions are not successfully in place before, during and after these transitions.
This study has been designed to identify the barriers to successful transitions between educational systems for children with ASD. Focus groups and interviews have been conducted with parents of children with ASD across different sites (UCLA, UC Davis, U Penn, and U Rochester) as means to identify transition barriers that will inform an intervention to improve transition outcomes for children with ASD and their families.
Social Dynamics of Intervention (SoDI)
We recognize that children with ASD may need targeted transition interventions. The Autism Intervention Research Network for Behavioral Health (AIR-B), a team of researchers across 5 Universities (UCLA, Drexel University, UC Davis, U Penn, and U Rochester) has begun the development of just such an intervention. An important measure of change for this intervention is social network mapping of the levels of communication and cooperation between all members of the child’s transition team. These maps are the brainchild of Dr. Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick and Dr Kathleen Carley who have developed the Social Dynamics of Intervention (SoDI) tool. AIR-B investigators are currently piloting the tool with families who are transitioning to new levels of schooling. We are following families from the end of school, over the summer and through the transition to the new school. Once we better understand the challenges the families and teachers face, we will be better able to design an intervention to help in these transitions. The goal is for the social networks to have stronger connections over time, thus insuring the students will have the necessary supports in place to make a positive transition.