Planning for Transitions

Transition means moving from one stage or place to another.
Examples of transition are when your child moves from an early intervention program to preschool, from one grade to another or from one kind of educational placement to another. Moving from high school into the adult world is another big transition. There are also times when a student experiences a major life change outside of the school setting (for example, a serious illness or death in the family) that impacts their learning and may trigger the need for transition planning.

All transitions have several things
in common.
Whether your child is transitioning into preschool or college, his or her transition will have these three things in common: 1) a period of uncertainty and questioning 2) a change in the support system for your child (new teachers, friends, service providers, etc.) and 3) and increase in stress.

Planning ahead helps make transitions smoother.
Transitions require some advance planning in order to make the move less hectic, more efficient and successful. They also require the input and support of your child’s IEP team.

By the time your child gets into intermediate/middle school, transition planning for adulthood
is included in the IEP.
Beginning at age 14 (or younger if appropriate), your child’s IEP will include a focus on what courses are needed to match up to future goals. By age 16, the IEP will also include appropriate, measurable goals for after high school that are based on your child’s strengths and interests and on age-appropriate transition assessments. The plan should state what services are needed to transition successfully into college, employment and/or living inn the community. Transition services may include actual training (for example, job training or independent living skills training), as well as links to adult service agencies that provide services to the student after high school.

Transition planning for students
age 16 and older looks at the major needs they may have as adults.
There are at least 10 areas that should be considered in planning for the future:

  1. Adult, vocational or higher education
  2. Employment
  3. Financial support
  4. Health care
  5. Living arrangements
  6. Transportation
  7. Social networks
  8. Recreation or leisure activities
  9. Legal representation (for example, guardianship or Power of Attorney)
  10. Self-advocacy skills needed by your child

Make sure your child is actively involved in planning his or her life.
Self-determination means living a life of your own choosing. When planning for transition, it is essential that you and your child’s teachers take the time to understand your child’s choices and life preferences. The more your child relates to the transition plan, the more he or she will be invested in working toward future goals.

Encourage your child to speak up at the IEP meeting.
Having your child at the IEP table is an excellent way to keep team members focused on the impact of their decisions. Talk with your child about her or his needs and desires before the meeting to build confidence toward participating as a full team member. All students need to learn self-advocacy skills. Ask your child’s teachers if some of these can be taught in the classroom.

Your child has the right to make all educational decisions when her or
she turns 18.
When a student with a disability reaches the age of 18 (called the age of majority), all rights that have been granted to parents under IDEA transfer to the student. That means that your child, and not you, has the right to consent to services or refuse them and has the right to utilize due process options, like mediation and due process hearing requests.

Your adult child can give you or someone else the right to make decisions through a limited Power
of Attorney.
Sometimes students prefer for their parents to continue to advocate on their behalf, or they may want a friend or other trusted adult to do so. This can be done through a Power of Attorney for Special Education. Your child will name his or her agent in writing, and either have two witnesses document the signing of the document or have it notarized.

A guardian or an educational representative can be appointed.
“Decisional capacity” refers to an adult student being able to understand, reason and act on his or her own behalf. If the student lacks decisional capacity, it means they are unable to provide informed consent for their educational program. Some parents will opt to become their child’s legal guardian. This requires going to court and having a judge declare you child legally incompetent to make certain decisions for himself or herself. Another option that doesn’t require legal action is to become your child’s educational representative for special education purposes. All that is required is a written statement by a qualified professional (a physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, a representative from the Developmental Disabilities Division, etc.) that your child lacks decisional capacity due to his or her disability.

A Summary of Performance is given when your child leaves school.
It is intended for post high school planning and lists academic achievement and functional performance including information such as: final report card, progress reports from the IEP, recent scores in reading and math, and skill levels related to communication, independent living, mobility and social skills (as appropriate).

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