Transition to Secondary school for young people with autism spectrum disorder

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology


    The transition to secondary school is important for all students. For students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who have difficulty with changes in routine (WHO, 1992), it is especially important that the transition is carefully managed. This report aims to contribute to the understanding of this process. The first study involved a systematic investigation and critique of literature on this transition with a specific focus on students with ASD. The second study comprised the development, implementation and evaluation of a transition programme for nine students with ASD. All were in their final year at mainstream primary schools in a Scottish city. The final study followed up the progress of eight of these students during their first year at secondary school. The empirical studies utilised a range of process and outcomes measures, including questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and discussion activities. There was a paucity of scholarly literature on the transition of students with ASD indicating the need for further research. The programme received positive student and parent evaluations and there was some evidence of impact using outcome measures. Feelings of anxiety mixed with excitement were associated with the transition. Students reported higher than normal anxiety levels before and after transfer, although there was evidence of a slight reduction over this period. Students and parents provided a positive evaluation of the students’ social functioning in secondary school, in contrast to the mixed perspective of secondary school staff. Findings are discussed with reference to the literature. Limitations of the present research are considered. Finally, implications for practice and possible areas for future research are proposed.
    Date of Award2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKeith Topping (Supervisor)


    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Transition
    • Secondary School
    • Anxiety
    • Social functioning

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