October 5, 2015

Kindergarten Transition in Franklin County

The transition into kindergarten is a critical developmental time for children and research consistently demonstrates the need for specific practices to smooth this transition. Although successful transition into kindergarten is a consideration for students in general education, students with special education needs, such as students with autism spectrum disorder, may require additional transition planning.

Children with ASD are especially vulnerable during the transition from preschool to kindergarten given the linguistic, social, and behavioral challenges these children often face. The new academic, social, and physical environment of the kindergarten setting may quickly become overwhelming for a child with ASD, and their learned skills from preschool may not generalize to the new setting.

To this end, the Autism Services Improvement Team for Franklin County Public Schools (FCPS) is focusing on that all-important transition from preschool to kindergarten for students on the autism spectrum. The team conducted research last year on key elements required for student success with this transition, including student readiness to:

  • work independently on tasks for brief periods of time
  • play independently with engaging items in a classroom environment
  • learn new skills with support within a classroom environment
  • engage in group instruction
  • accept redirection
  • transition between activities and settings
  • communicate basic wants and needs
  • demonstrate some self-care skills
  • generalize learned skills to new settings
  • follow basic classroom rules

This year, FCPS is working to support a collaborative initiative between Early Childhood Special Education and the Virginia Preschool Initiative program in the division, including one classroom that is co-taught by a general education/special education team of teachers. Support from the Autism Services Improvement Team to this newly organized, inclusive preschool program will include training, consultation, and planning support to address key elements for kindergarten success.

The co-taught classroom will be a special focus setting this year. The Autism Services Improvement Team is working with preschool co-teachers on integrating elements from New York University’s “Intensive Kindergarten” model, developed by Dr. Shirley Cohen, into their program design, and also on integrating speech-language and occupational therapy goals and services into activities within the classroom setting across the day.

The Three T's of Transition

The VCU-ACE Statewide Goal Committee on Transition recognized that there are distinct domains that comprise this complex concept. Appropriately named, “The Three T’s of Transition”, these areas are as follows: transition from grade-to-grade, level-to-level, teacher-to-teacher, transition to and from out-of division placement, and the transition that takes place when students leave from secondary education and embark into adulthood. The Three T's of Transition webcast further defines transition, discusses the process by which the subcommittees analyzed each domain, provides an overview of the committee’s white paper, and provides case studies that utilize several tools developed to increase consistency and effectiveness of the transition process. View it today!

Transition Resources Abound

Both the transition from childhood to adolescence and adolescence to adulthood can cause difficulties for individuals with ASD. Adolescents and adults have unique needs, and these needs must be addressed so that individuals can thrive during periods of transition. To that end, VCU-ACE provides a number of different resources for both adolescents and adults with ASD. These resources cover options such as career choice, college assistance and sexuality. Some resources, such as the Autism Disorder and Employment seminar are located on our website. Other resources, such as Autism After 16, take you to different sites that we have found helpful in addressing these needs. Check back often, as VCU-ACE continues to build upon our resources.

Transition- In His Own Words

Justin George is a young man with ASD and ADHD. He also has anxiety. In Justin's own words, he discusses how strategies, people and placements helped him move from middle school, high school and now to college. Strategies on how he moved forward, became more self-determined, and has used his interests and love of amateur radio and weather reporting to continue to become more successful as he progresses through his transitions in life are also discussed in this webcast. This webcast is both uplifting and informative, and offers the unique perspective of an individual with ASD.

Check Out Our New Website!

VCU-ACE is proud to announce our new, improved website. The website has been remodeled to better serve the needs of our viewers. Also, the website has been reformatted so that it may be viewed on cell phones and tablets. Web pages have been changed to make them easier to navigate. This website will easily hold the growing resources the VCU-ACE continues to offer in the way of the how to video series, webcasts, seminars, and online courses. Please check it out today!

Reading Is Understanding

Reading is a fundamental part of our daily lives. Imagine what your world would be like if you did not understand the words you see on this page. For the majority of students with ASD reading is a challenge. Although often able to decode words, comprehending the text read or expressing what they are able to understand may prove difficult. Providing assessment based instruction, specific to each student’s reading level, is paramount to increasing reading comprehension skills. In our webcast, airing on Wednesday, October 13 at 3:30 pm, we will discuss the importance of comprehension and share research-based and promising practices to be used during the instruction and informal reading assessments of verbal and nonverbal students with ASD. Register now!