As my son approached high school, the school staff began talking about his transition plan. What the heck? We needed to have three “post-secondary goals” on his plan. Those goals were about Further Education, Employment, and Independent Living.
It was seventh grade – how many kids know what they want to be at that age? Then throw disability into the mix.
Besides that, he’s going to live with me forever! Oops – wait a minute … what if I don’t live forever? What is the back-up plan?
This is where a transition plan is important. These goals are called “post-secondary” because they are goals for what your child may do after high school. Here are some examples:
Ideally, these goals should be based on your child’s interests.
At the time, my son’s dream was to become a professional wrestler. So, this was his post-secondary goal: “After high school, Emanuel will work as a professional wrestler.” Not realistic, you say? Of course it isn’t. But it’s a starting point. It is his dream, not mine. And post-secondary goals can change each year; they are not set in stone.
Next, we looked at courses of study. Physical Education seemed to be a good class to work on wrestling skills. Maybe he needed to try out for the wrestling team. Considering professional wrestling is more of an acting job anyway, we decided a theater class would be good.
The point is that we were creative. We looked at classes that might provide my son with opportunities to learn more about the field he was interested in. We mapped out classes (required and elective) for the four years of high school. This is what typical students do in order to graduate successfully.
Note: if the school says your child cannot take that class, make sure you ask them to write that down, along with why it is not possible.
At least one annual IEP goal is needed to help your child get to one of the post-secondary goals. For each IEP goal, I had to ask myself, “Will this goal help my son become a wrestler?" Reading goals will help him read the wrestling contracts. Math goals will help him count his vast earnings. Did he need goals to participate in Theater or P.E.?
And because professional wrestling might not end up to be a good career choice, we needed some IEP goals around career exploration. I made sure that social skills and effective communication goals remained in his IEP. These skills would be important to helping him reach his dreams—whether they had to do with wrestling or engineering.
What does your child want to do when he/she gets out of school? What do you want for him/her? By using the transition plan you can create some goals to guide you and the IEP team to a life that is meaningful after high school.
For more information on transition, visit the Transition to Adulthood on this website.
I realize that while I may be an educated parent, I can always learn something new to help my son and other families navigate the world of disabilities. I have learned so much in an online course called "Partners in Policymaking."
Sam Allen has high-functioning autism. He was recently recognized as a Student Success Story at the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) annual conference.
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