Have you thought about life after high school for your child?
Many parents wonder about postsecondary options for students with disabilities after they leave high school. Every parent has hopes, dreams, and goals for their child, but sometimes those goals may have to be shifted to fit the needs of their child. However, as a parent, it is important to realize that regardless of the goal and vision that you have for your child, high expectations need to be maintained throughout the postsecondary transition process. When these high expectations are maintained, your child is more likely to be successful in their postsecondary future. For many, transitioning out of high school can be a scary thing for a child and parent. This is why transition planning is very important, as it outlines the steps towards your child’s future. If you are not aware of your child’s choices after high school, consider the following postsecondary options for students with disabilities: college, trade or technical school, vocational rehabilitation services, and adult day programs.
If your child is headed for the college route, then there is a number of educational options available to them. Depending on whether the program is a two-year or four-year degree, the criteria for college varies. Criteria can include a GED or high school diploma, placement exams, test scores, and writing samples. Today, colleges and universities have a Disability Office to ensure that students with disabilities have an opportunity to meet their educational goals, while providing educational support for them in an independent learning environment. Before your child makes a decision on the college they want to attend, they should visit the school and Disability Office to find out what accommodations are provided for students with disabilities and if they will provide your child with the accommodations that they need. Keep in mind, every college is different even though they provide disability services for students.
Trade or Technical School
What if college is not an option for your child? Then learning a trade or attending technical school could be the answer. Does your child have a specific interest such as computers or animals? What about cars or home improvement (i.e. carpentry, plumbing)? There are a variety of programs that focus on specific interest and talents and that offer certificates to give job training. There are also many apprenticeship programs housed in trade and technical schools to put your child on the right track. One of the bonuses of some certificate and apprenticeship programs is that they have job placement opportunities as well. Enrolling in a trade or technical school usually takes less than one to two years to complete. However, it can lead to higher paying job opportunities and can be a step towards another degree.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Does your child need counseling and/or job training and skills? Some young adults with disabilities need more guidance and job training that matches their skills. Governmental vocational rehabilitation services can help adults with disabilities with counseling, training, job skills, and job placement services. Vocational rehabilitation services also helps high school students set employment goals and identify the steps and services necessary for achieving their goals, whether it be for on-the-job training or a two- or four-year technical or college degree. Remember, your child should seek out these services starting their junior year of high school (during transition planning) in order to start the process.
Adult Day Programs
Depending on the needs of your child, some young adults with disabilities may need to transition to an adult day program. Adult day programs focus on community-based volunteer and work experiences. The programs are tailored to meet the individual’s needs and goals of each adult. There are federal and local government agencies that offer programs and services to service adults with disabilities. These services can include but are not limited to health care, housing, education, and transportation. Since every governmental agency is different, you should inquire at your local government agency first.
One important thing to keep in mind is that postsecondary options for your child should be planned well in advance during transition planning at your child’s IEP meeting. After a student with a disability leaves school and enters into the adult world, no single agency is required to provide or coordinate any needed services. Parents and young adults with disabilities will have to seek out services for themselves. So utilize the earlier moments (while your child is still in school) to discuss these great opportunities for your child’s future.
What options have you thought about for your child?