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Changing to Secondary School – the Secondary School Years

The Transition to Secondary School and the Teenage Years

The teenage years are a challenging time for the teenager themselves and for their parents and other close family members.

This section covers many sensitive topics including puberty, sexuality, anxiety and emotional stresses, as well as the transition to secondary school and the stress of exams.


The Transition to Secondary School

Transitions are always difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum and you will need to once again research the right schooling option for your child, investigate the options and work with the school to set up a program for the individual on the spectrum.

You will find a range of Amaze Info Sheets to help with your choice of school in the resources section.

Please note that we are unable to recommend specific schools. Every child is different and has different requirements and needs. What works for one may not work for another. We can give general advice only.


Preparing for the Transition

Many of the same strategies apply to the transition to secondary school as applied to starting primary school. You may need some or all of these depending on the individual on the autism spectrum.


Bullying and Autism

Some of the typical characteristics of individuals on the autism spectrum increase their risk of being teased and bullied.

A literal understanding of language can make a person on the autism spectrum vulnerable to verbal teasing. Problems with social skills can lead to misunderstandings about the intent of other students: sometimes, an individual on the autism spectrum mistakes bullying for friendliness. On the other hand, it is quite common for individuals on the autism spectrum to be particularly sensitive to comments from others, so they may mistake a friendly overture as bullying.

Specific mannerisms that a person on the autism spectrum may display, such as hand flapping, rocking, or self-commentary can also make them the target of bullies.

It is important for the individual to learn to recognise suspicious or unfriendly behaviour, to have a selection of possible activities to engage in during meal breaks and to have a safe place to go to.


Adolescence, Puberty and Sexuality in a Autistic Teenager

As individuals on the autism spectrum reach puberty and their bodies begin to change, these physical changes may be out of step with their academic and social skills.

As change is often a problem for individuals on the autism spectrum, it is very important that they are prepared for the changes that puberty brings – physical changes and emotional changes.

It may be difficult for parents to know when to start to talk to their son or daughter about puberty and how to explain it. The following information sheet may be of assistance and also includes social expectations regarding privacy and personal hygiene.

Puberty and the Autism Spectrum

Family Planning Victoria has extensive information explaining puberty and sexuality to individuals with a disability. Read their information sheets at Family Planning Victoria.


Where to get more help

If you need assistance with any of the above information, contact our InfoLine for individuals, families and professionals or practitioners.


Online Resources

We provide a full range of Information Sheets about all aspects of the autism spectrum – these are updated regularly.

See Online Resources