Transition is a scary time – what will your child do after high school ends? Where will they live, work, find social opportunities? When does transition begin? In Texas, transition must be addressed for students receiving special education services not later than when they reach 14 years old. Early planning is essential to make sure that all the issues are addressed.
The hopes, dreams, and potential of our children should “drive” the transition planning process, not their diagnosis. Your child’s transition plan should reflect what they would like to do after high school and include a plan that helps them get there.
Federal law tells us that the purpose of a transition plan for children with disabilities is to prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. How do you do that? Begin by asking questions like those that follow. The answers will be different for each person.
Does your child plan to go to college, vocational school or get a job? Is he planning to take continuing education or adult education classes? Is he taking the appropriate classes that will allow him to enter college or vocational school? What kind of skills training does he need to get and keep a job? Your child’s school can definitely help with these questions.
Transition plans should address if your child plans to live independently. How will she participate in the community? If she is planning to drive to school, work or social events, does she need help getting a driver’s license? If she is unable to drive, what other public transportation options are there? What skills or training does your child need help with to meet their goal to live independently? Your child’s school can help with these questions as well.
Federal law also requires transition planning to be based on the child’s strengths, interests, and preferences. What are your child’s interests or hobbies? What skills or strengths do they have? What do they like to do? Strengths and interests can be the starting point for job possibilities. Talk with your child about jobs and what they might find interesting in a job. And remember, just because your child’s dreams might not seem possible, with some brainstorming and hard work, they might just come true! Say your child wants to be a fashion model - maybe they can’t do that to start with but maybe there is a job in the fashion industry that they can do!
Transition planning needs to include instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living goals, and, if needed, instruction on daily living skills and a functional vocational evaluation. What kind of instruction or related services does your son or daughter need to be prepared for life after high school? What kind of community experiences will help them gain work experience? Your child’s school can definitely help with these questions.
Transition success most often depends on early planning, appropriate educational services, and building or accessing community resources and connections. As your child matures, the changes to their interests and strengths should be reflected in their transition plans.
It has been said that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Let’s make sure that our children have transition plans that will get them to their intended destinations!