Autism and Deafness: Guide

Joyce Sewell-Rutter and Stephanie Dawson | View as single page | Feedback/Impact


Defined as: ‘the movement, passage or change from one position state or stage to another’.  Transitions of one kind or another are features of everyday life and can be planned or unplanned.  Moving from one activity or place to another can often be difficult for a deaf autistic child causing great anxiety and a meltdown state.  The reasons for this could stem from a lack of being in control or not knowing what challenges the ‘next/new environment’ will hold.  Or it could be not being ready to relinquish one activity for another that is being imposed upon them.

Strategies to help transition times can be:

  • now and next cards[1]-detailing pictorially the context of each

  • a visual timetable (at different levels of complexity)

  • a sensory diet …physical activities provided by an occupational therapist to desensitize as a preparation for change

  • social stories, comic strips  or social storyboards[2] which explain what is going to happen in a given context and enable you to put yourself in that context before the real experience

  • use of an egg timer to prepare for the change.

[1] Autism Education Trust

Autism Education Trust offers a wide range of resources and training

Transition from early years to primary school

Transition from primary to secondary school


[2] The Asperger Children’s Toolkit - these can be purchased from various publishers or via Amazon.

[3] Practical strategies for daily transitions  Deaf and Autism Event-Dawn with resources 2015

[4] Impact of music on transitions  (Kern Wolery and Aldridge)


Transitions in Education

Moving from one phase of education to another can also present challenges for all children and this is especially so for many deaf autistic children and young people.

Resources to support children moving between schools and from school to college are available.

NAS - National Autistic Society  offers a range of advice about moving between life stages.

iPAD app for transition to secondary school

Information about the transfer of audiological management from paediatric to adult services is also available in many areas as a part of the Sensory Support Local Offer.  Websearch to find your local authority link in the UK.