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Transition planning is very important for all students, but especially important for students with disabilities. If you think about it, we all plan for transitioning our children out of high school and entering them into the college, tech, vocational, and/or employment world. It is a natural process. However, most parents do not think about their child’s next steps until their junior or senior year of high school. Yet, with students with disabilities, transition services begin at the age of 14. Why so early? When IDEA 2004 was amended, they sought to improve the results for postsecondary students with disabilities. Many students with disabilities were dropping out of school and not completing their education. So, IDEA vamped up their requirements for transition planning. Now, even though IDEA does not mandate the IEP team to include transition planning until the age of 16, many states started to include activities at the age of 14.
What are Transition Services?
Transition Services means a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability, designed within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student with a disability to facilitate the student’s movement from school to postsecondary activities, including, but not limited to:
- postsecondary education
- vocational education
- integrated competitive employment (including supported employment)
- continuing and adult education
- adult services
- independent living and/or
- community participation.
The Coordinated Set of Activities must be based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, and include needed activities in the following areas:
- related services;
- community experiences;
- the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
- when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
All activities that are developed must focus on increasing academic and functional skills to help your child transition to postsecondary activities.
As a parent, am I part of the decision-making?
Yes. Remember that you are part of the IEP team. Transition planning is part of the IEP meeting. It is not separate. And most importantly, you know your child the best! Stay in touch with your child’s special education teachers to make sure that planning for postsecondary activities is consistent with the plans your family has for your child. But take note, your child’s thoughts and opinions are also very important in this process and are critical to a successful transition out of high school.
What does a transition plan look like?
A transition plan includes postsecondary goals and objectives tailored to meet the needs, strengths, and interests of your child. They are based upon transition assessments that are related to training, independent skills, education and employment. The activities developed are important for your child to maintain an interest in their course of study and motivate them to complete their education. When students plan ahead for their futures, they are more likely to complete school, go to college or trade school, and gain employment.
What can I do to help?
Remember that transition planning is an integral part of your child’s IEP and is designed to help you start thinking about what supportive services and accommodations your child will need in the future. Even before transition planning occurs during the IEP meeting, begin to ask yourself:
- What do I see for my child’s future?
- Do I want them to go to college?
- What kind of job do I want them to have?
- How will they get that job?
- Where can they learn the skills to qualify?
It is important to keep this in mind because your child should have a plan before leaving school, so there is no gap in education and/or services. Unfortunately, I have seen parents wait until their child graduates to really begin to take an active part in their child’s postsecondary life. However, after a student with a disability leaves school, no single agency is required to provide or coordinate any needed services. So, begin to plan now, no matter the age of your child. You want to make sure your child will be successful in the future no matter their ability or disability.
Get started with preparing for your transition IEP meeting, by downloading your FREE checklist.
What issues are you having with transition planning?