The transition to kindergarten: Family and teacher practices for children with autism and other developmental disabilities

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Laura Lee McIntyre

Second Advisor

Rachel Razza


Autism, Developmental disabilities, Transition, School psychology, Kindergarten

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The transition to kindergarten for students with disabilities presents educators and family members with many challenges as students shift from early childhood education settings to elementary school settings. In order to facilitate a successful kindergarten transition, it is suggested that families and educators create collaborative home-school partnerships that bridge early education, home, and elementary school environments. Children with developmental delays (DD) may require additional supports as they transition to kindergarten due to their special needs. In particular, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), given their significant deficits in communication and social functioning, along with restricted or repetitive behaviors, may require more comprehensive transition supports than children with other developmental delays. However, there are few empirical studies that focus on transition to kindergarten for students with disabilities. Therefore, the goal of this study was to compare kindergarten transition practices in preschool children with ASD ( n = 19) and children with other developmental delays ( n = 76) as reported by both parents and preschool teachers. Results suggest that, although parents with a child with ASD reported significantly more concerns regarding the transition to kindergarten, there were no differences in parent involvement in transition preparation activities or teacher provided activities. An additional goal was to compare group differences in the stability of parent-reported parenting stress and child behavior across the transition period from spring of the preschool year to kindergarten entry in the fall. Parenting stress and child behavior problems were relatively stable across time. Study findings are discussed in the context of future research directions and interventions to help facilitate smooth kindergarten transitions for young children with disabilities.