Transition Planning Milestones for Youth with Autism

Transitioning to adulthood is a process requiring advanced planning and preparation. Some of the services and supports a child under 18 has will come to an end and new adult services may begin. Parents may need to develop new expectations, activities, supports and services for a growing adult. The person with ASD will need support to identify their interests, strengths and their next steps.

Questions for the person with Autism:

  • What do I want to do after high school?
  • What am I great at?
  • Where will I live?
  • Successful transitions require early planning and practice, practice, practice!

Grade 8 and Planning for Grade 9

Entering high school can feel like entering a whole new country. Knowing the language is important so you can make informed choices.

The choices can feel complicated. The more students and their families are part of making choices about school the more control a student has over their destination.

Things to think about before you get to Grade 9:

Questions for the person with Autism:

    High school programs: What are my choices?
    What does a high school offer? Understand what choice of programs high schools offer. Some Programs to ask about: Special Education Programs, Developmentally Delayed, Self Directed Learning, Gifted and Resource Programs.

    Will I earn a diploma, what are my choices?
    When making Grade 9 course selections, be sure you understand the number and type of credits required to graduate.

    How will the courses a student chooses in High School affect their choices for life after high school?

Be familiar with and ask your school questions about these terms:

  • Certificate of Accomplishment (COA): The Certificate of Accomplishment is granted to students who do not fulfill the requirements of the OSSD or OSSC. It recognizes a student’s participation in a secondary school program. Students are enrolled in K courses (non-credit).
  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD): The Ontario Secondary School Diploma is granted after fulfilling all necessary credit, literacy and community hour requirements.

The Summer before Grade 9

Attend the Getting Ready for High School Orientation Day.
Keep a look out for the orientation days which high schools hold in August and the first week of September. These days are designed to help students prepare for high school. Some communities have more intensive high school preparation groups or workshops. Ask you local community agency or school staff.

Make sure travel arrangements to and from school are organized.

Become familiar with and PRACTICE high school routines and timetables.
The school will provide information regarding start/end times and basic routines. Most schools allow about 5 minutes to get to your next class. Lunch periods will be included in your timetable. Use the summer to get familiar with new routines and lunch time.

Other related content on ConnectABILITY

  • Off to School
  • Transition Practices: Transitioning Out of High School (2 videos)
    • Ministry of education mandated items -Mary Ierullo, ASD Consultant, School Support Program, Surrey Place Centre
    • Transition Planning for exit out of high school -Michelle Murphy, Autism Support Teacher, Autism Programs & Services Department, TCDSB

In Grade 9s and 10

During your son/daughter’s grade 10 year they will be asked to choose a course “destination” or” pathway”. This choice is made knowing their interests for future work and their current performance in high school courses and their current stream.

University Preparation Courses

  • Designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the entrance requirements needed for university programs.
  • Courses are based on the theory of the subject matter, with the inclusion of some hands-on application.

College Preparation Courses

  • Designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet entrance requirements for college and some apprenticeship programs.
  • Courses are based on concrete applications or subject matter with a focus on the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Workplace Preparation Courses

  • Designed to prepare students with the skills and knowledge necessary for direct entry into the workplace, for admission to apprenticeship programs and other training programs offered in the community.
  • Promotes the importance of life-long learning.

Community Participation Courses

  • Designed to prepare students for transition to community participation.
  • Promote meaningful social inclusion in the community.

Annual Transition Planning Meetings

  • Did you know you are entitled to Annual Transition Planning Meetings each year of high school with the High School?
      Q. What is a High School Transition Planning Meeting?
      A. Transition Planning Meetings can begin in grade 9 and be held at least once a year through to graduation. The purpose of the meetings is to plan for life after high school.
  • Parents have the right to invite outside community agencies to assist in the planning for transitioning out of high school.
  • Some sample goals that may come from a student’s Transitioning Planning meeting may include: Complete volunteer hours, Link with employment agencies for summer employment. Increase opportunities to gain independence (cooking, public transit)
  • Keep the lines of communication open! Ask your child how he/she is adjusting to high school. Remind him/ her that there are many caring adults that are available to help: Guidance Counsellors, Teachers, Child and Youth Workers, Administrators, Chaplains, Coaches, Educational Assistants, Student Success Teachers. Get connected with a Social Service Agency in your community.

The teenage student’s social life

Things to think about for the high school teen?

  • How are they coping at lunch time? Are there other places to eat lunch?
  • Are they using social media in a safe way?
  • Do they know where to go for help in the school?
  • Do they need support making friends? Many high schools have Peer Support Programs?
  • Are there school clubs that your student would enjoy?
  • Do they need help to prepare for the high school dance?
  • Are they hearing the morning announcements ?
  • Are they ready for a girlfriend or boyfriend?

Other related content on ConnectABILITY

  • Person Directed Planning
  • Off to School
  • Steps to Independence
  • Transition Planning for exit out of high school – (Independence skills)(video)
    Michelle Murphy, Autism Support Teacher, Autism Programs & Services Department, TCDSB
  • Planning for Life After School – This is a series of workshops and tip-sheets designed to help plan for life after school. It is important to go through all of the workshops in order as each one prepares us for the next one.

At Age 16

If you have not already started, this is the age to get students connected to part time work, social and recreation options. People with ASD need PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE in their social lives and their work lives.

The connections they make between 16-18 may be a stepping stone to adult relationships, recreation and work after age 18.

  • Apply to the DSO
  • Making the most of your school time (Social groups etc.)
  • Friends and relationships
  • Develop Community skills

Apply to Developmental Services Ontario (DSO)

The Ontario Government has adult supports and services.
At age 16 apply for adult support and services with your local Developmental Service Ontario office and insert link to DSO/Passport Process Chart

Get social!

Encourage your child to get involved. Students should listen to announcements that advertise try-outs for teams or meetings for clubs. Getting involved will allow students to make new friends and feel a part of the school community. This is a trouble zone for many people with ASD. The social world can be tricky. Have a plan for finding out about school events and clubs in more than one way.

Is your child staying healthy? Are immunizations up to date? When was his/her last medical check-up? Is he/ she physically active, eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep? Being well physically will certainly help students reach their academic potential and social potential.

Link to AO eventbright –Check here for ASD friendly events in your area!

Tools for Planning Ahead

There a variety of online planning tools to help families as children become teenagers and then adults.

Autism Parent Resource Kit
This kit has sections on Common Transitions, Family Transitions and Educational Transitions

The KIT: Keeping it Together is an organizational tool. It is a way to organize information for your child, and to assist you when interacting with different service systems, for example health, education, and recreation. It is useful for parents of children from birth to 21 years.

The Youth KIT is made for youth with ASD to keep track of important information as they transition to adulthood.

Sub: Developing Skills for Adult Life
People with ASD need opportunities to practice many things. Think of the high school years as practice years for adulthood. Here are some independent living skills teens in Grades 9 through 11 may want to practice: Cooking/Laundry/Financial Literacy/Travel training etc.

Click on these links for more Developing Skills for Adult Life resources:

Between 18-20

  • Apply for ODSP
  • Getting ready for life after high school

Did you know that in Ontario a student can be in school until you are 21, but your rights change at 18.

Life after highschool:

Here are a few tips depending on which pathway you choose.

*** Perhaps we should combine University and College and then highlight Adapted programs ie cece***


What is University?

  • Universities provide degree programs that are theoretical in nature and these programs vary for each university.
  • Universities provide undergraduate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and Business.
  • Most undergraduate programs range in cost from 6,000 dollars to 10,000 dollars. Books are extra. If the individual chooses to live away from home the cost increase.

WHY choose the university pathway?

  • Labour market advantages for degree holders.
  • Accelerate career advancement.

WHO is university for?

  • Your son/daughter enjoys abstract concepts associated with course material and academic/ theoretical learning.
  • Your son/daughter can complete much of their own work independently.

How can you prepare for university?

  • Your son/daughter must be enrolled primarily in Academic courses in Grades 9 & 10 and University “U” or University/College “M” courses in Grades 11 & 12.
  • Your son/daughter should try to visit as many universities as possible.
  • Your son/daughter must know and achieve the pre-requisites of the program they want to apply to.


What is College?

  • College programs provide an effective combination of real-life skills with quality education.
  • Colleges offer a wide range of career options from which to choose.
  • Many college graduates are employed within six months of graduation.
  • Pursuing college studies is more economically feasible, approximately $3000 to $5000 per year.
  • Practical and theoretical learning are combined.

WHO is college for?

  • Your son/daughter finds success in practical applied curriculum.
  • Your son/daughter enjoys smaller classes and a personal approach to instruction.

Post Secondary Education Supports

Post-Secondary tips

  • Thinking of Post-Secondary Education? Considerations for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Families
  • Transaction Resource Guide – Here you will find lists of support services, campus accessibility, contact lists and more for every publicly funded post-secondary institution in Ontario.
  • Facing the Challenges of Post-Secondary Education: Strategies for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).


Students who are registered in non-credit courses (K courses) may be attaining a Certificate of Accomplishment (COA) before leaving secondary school.

The following are some options that these students may have through the Community Agencies with which students may be affiliated. All of the agencies are included in the DSO, Developmental Services Ontario ( )

  • Community participation – This includes things like enjoying social, fun or spiritual activities; developing self-help skills; continuing to learn after high school: taking a course, volunteering, using public libraries or participating in activities at a community centre; volunteering or preparing for a job.• Employment support programs
  • Job readiness programs
  • Direct employment after high school

The transition from school to work, further education, and community living can be particularly challenging for many exceptional students. A successful transition is significantly increased when:

  • schools work with parents, employers, community agencies and providers of further education to develop coordinated plans and community networks
  • planned early
  • there are Short Term and Long Term goals set each year of high school. These goals relate to community networks, Identifying necessary Life Skills for community living, workplace experiences


Students who are considering going to work immediately following secondary school may decide to do so after achieving an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or an Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC). Students who are interested in this pathway are encouraged to take part in co-operative education programs in grades 11 and/or 12. They are also encouraged to consider the Specialized High Skills Major (SHSM) program that may be offered at their school. In consultation with the Guidance Counsellor and Co-op Teacher, students can plan their pathway to work. Participation in the local Job Fairs in which students have the opportunity to meet employers and to develop job search skills is of great benefit to students who are looking for employment. This is a excellent place to register with their local employment agency.

Many people with ASD with all different abilities can work and earn their own income.
Here’s how:

  • Use your special interests and strengths to help you choose your job.
  • Consider asking for help to find work and keep work

ConnectAbility related content
Resources, tools supporting successful employment and the business case for hiring a person with a disability

Transitioning to Employment. This article tells us students with ASD need more help in the following areas related to employment: Social interactions with colleagues, organizational skills and sensory challenges, understanding different roles/careers , interviewing, managing anxiety, reading social cues, self-advocating , mental health and gives ideas for how schools can support employment. (huddle link, insert link to AO Article)

Worktopia is a unique, federally funded national initiative designed to improve employment readiness and enhance the employment skills of youth and young adults ages 15-29 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as they transition from high school to independent adulthood.

Check out our job prep piece – link to content when it’s developed.

WHAT is an Apprenticeship?

  • A practical method of learning specific work skills that combines a variety of destinations, especially work and college.
  • There are over 150 skilled trades in Ontario that can be classified into four sectors: Construction, Industrial, Motive Power and Service. For a complete list of trades, check out: or