What is your measure of success for your student after graduation?

Is it completing a four year college degree? Is it completing a two year associates degree? Is it completing a trade school and entering an apprenticeship program?  Or maybe it is obtaining gainful employment out of high school to help them be independent tax paying, health insured adults.  Or a combination of the above. Whatever your measure of success is for your student, it doesn’t happen by chance or at least successfully by chance.

I have witnessed many parents and students during their student’s senior year of high school who are panicked because they are not sure what direction to go. However, often times that same panic is not with the student.  Many of the students have a dream but unfortunately it isn’t realistic for a number of reasons. It might not be commiserate with their abilities,  doesn’t meet the financial constraints of their family or just isn’t well thought out.  Of course, there are those few that do have a good plan and that is when you say…go for it! If it fails, you are there for them to make adjustments.

Transition planning is so important to the lives of our students with LD, ADD and High Functioning Autism.  Transition planning should start when the student is in 8th grade and continually be updated each year and even well after they graduate.  Each year should have specific goals that includes the input of your student.  If you don’t have student led conferences at your high school request one and require your student be involved.  (that’s another blog, stay tuned)  Helping your student learn their abilities and how to reach their goals is an important self advocacy skill.

Strategies for Transition Planning*

Ideas for Students

  • Write down your long-term goals.
  • What do you think you need to do to reach these?
  • Read your IEP and transition plan. Is it happening?
  • If you want to lead your own IEP meeting or conference, tell others and ask for help, if needed.
  • Learn about your civil rights under the law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Learn about your disability.
  • Learn to explain your strengths, and how to ask for reasonable accommodations.
  • Practice job interviews and/or asking for accommodations.
  • Talk with your doctor and parents about your health care needs so that you will be ready to take responsibility for them.

Ideas for Parents & Guardians

  • Observe your son’s or daughter’s independent living skills, work behaviors, social involvement, dreams, and hopes.
  • Call your child’s teachers and ask that transition services, including financial planning, be addressed at your next meeting.
  • Help your child learn about his or her disability and how to ask for the supports he or she needs.
  • Give your child responsibility for chores at home.
  • Role-play different situations with your child (e.g., interviews).
  • Introduce your child to adult role models with disabilities.
  • Look in your phone book and identify three new possible resources to help your son’s or daughter’s transition to adult activities.

Ideas for Teachers

  • Talk to students and families about transition services.
  • Ask to attend a conference, workshop, or other learning opportunity related to transition.
  • Teach students about their civil rights under the law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Pledge to conduct collaborative, needs-based IEP meetings that empower youth and families.
  • Provide youth with step-by-step activities that familiarize them with the IEP process and prepare them to take active roles.
  • Call the local rehabilitation counselor or disability services case manager and coordinate a meeting.
  • Develop a folder that contains information you have about community resources and how to access them and share with IEP Team members, transition councils, families, students, and administrators.

*Strategies for Transition Planning section adapted from a publication of the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) entitled, “Transition Planning: A Team Effort,” (1999; resources updated 2002) by Sharon H. deFur, Ed.D., College of William and Mary. Contact NICHCY for the original and complete publication.

Does your student have a plan for transition after high school?  If not, talk with your school principal or counselor to create one. Or email or call me and I can help get you started.

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