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A transition is the mental process we experience as we adapt to new situations brought by change.

We understand that change can be stressful. To handle transition, it’s important to focus on the feelings of leaving the old situation behind, rather than just the end result.

Understanding the mental changes that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) challenges, and neurodiversity (ND) face is important for everyone around them.

Stages of transition


Transitions begin with an ending.

In this first phase, we need to become aware of our losses and learn to handle them. We figure out what’s ending and what we’ll keep, which may involve relationships, team members, or places.

Neutral Zone

The second transition step, the neutral zone, happens after letting go.

It’s the period between the old situation and the new one, where we adjust our mindset and habits. During this time, we feel uncertain and may experience confusion and distress. We’re learning new routines and roles, and this stage serves as the base for new beginnings.

New Beginnings

New beginnings bring fresh perspectives, values, and attitudes.

They involve directing energy towards a new identity. When transitions are well-managed, we can settle into new roles, understanding our purpose and finding our way to connect (attach) to something effectively. This leads to a sense of belonging and safety.

Transition management for young people with SEND, SEMH, and neurodiversity

Transition management for young people with special needs, social/emotional challenges, and neurodiversity involves supporting them through changes in their lives.

Successful transition management includes:

  • Communicating with young people and their families about the reasons for change and its benefits.
  • Gathering feedback from those affected by the change to understand its impact and involve them in the process.
  • Assessing the readiness of young people, their families, and support systems for the transition.
  • Educating teachers, support staff, and caregivers about the unique needs of young people during the change to ensure effective support.
  • Tracking the progress of young people as they navigate the stages of transition.
  • Encouraging young people to understand their valuable role in the change and how they can positively contribute to the process.