As the school year draws to a close, many school-based teams are busy conducting IEP meetings to review student progress toward educational goals and to set objectives for next year. Additionally, for students with ASD, a focus of these meetings likely also involves transition planning to ensure a successful start to the new school year in September. With regard to transitions to new schools, classrooms, and teachers we often recommend creating a one page summary as a means of sharing information across educational environments. Summary sheets are ideally filled out during end of year IEP meetings so that parents, teachers, and case managers all have the opportunity to provide input and determine the key information to be shared. Depending on his or her age, the student may also wish to contribute to the discussion about what classroom supports are needed.
We suggest including information such as:
- Student strengths and interests
- A brief biography
- Stressors and a description of behaviours that can indicate stress or anxiety
- Adaptations or accommodations that support learning, social success, and self-regulation
One page summaries are a great resource for teachers who may not be able to review all files and IEPs for their students with special needs prior to the first week of school. They provide snapshots of the students walking into the classroom and support teachers in building positive relationships with their students by detailing interests and strengths and in avoiding unexpected behaviours by communicating triggers and stressors. For example, by noting that a student experiences a great deal of anxiety when seated at the front of the classroom, new teachers can ensure that they assign a desk at the back of the room for that student. In addition being a supportive tool when first meeting the student, summary pages are a wonderful resource to have on hand throughout the school year as a quick reference for materials to increase motivation or ideas about why a student exhibited a particular behaviour or became anxious in a particular situation. It is important to keep summary pages up to date as student interests and triggers change across the school year.
Below we have included samples of what a one page summary might look like. Of course, we encourage schools to alter the information included based on what works for them. Remember that the information shared on these pages is confidential and should be shared in confidence between those assigned to work with the student and kept in a secure place in the classroom.