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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