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Sep / Oct 2014



Transitioning to Adulthood:  Getting a Life  


Transitioning Checklist




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This edition of YAP's ASD Newsletter centers around the topic of transition to adulthood. The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that transition is a change from one state or condition to another.  


We transition from season to season, from one place to another or one activity to another.  When we were in school, we stopped thinking about what games we would play at recess and focused instead on questions about the future:  Should I go to Vo-Tech and learn different skills?  Will I go to college?  Maybe I should just get a job?  So many decision to make. 


Transitioning is rarely easy, especially for individuals on the spectrum.  It is a process and can a long time to prepare.  


In this issue, we want to share some tools to assist with transition planning.  A transition plan is the section of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) that outlines transition goals and services for the student. The transition plan is based on a high school student's individual needs, strengths, skills, and interests. Transition planning is used to identify and develop goals which need to be accomplished during the current school year to assist the student in meeting his post-high school goals. This plan should be in place prior to an individual's 16th birthday.  

by Pat Amos, Consultant

The conversation had turned to transitions, and my friend, who had grown up with a developmental disability, suddenly looked glum. "Why is it," he asked, "that people with disabilities get a transition, while everyone else gets a life?" I was stunned. I had never thought of it that way before. As a parent of young children with disabilities, I had always assumed that planning their transitions to adulthood would be a straightforward and clear-cut thing to do, an undeniable "key to success." We had to work hard with the various funding streams to assure that goals were set and no gaps existed, that there would not be years of hanging out with the TV. But once adult services were in place, we could declare victory. Was it actually possible to create a successful transition in programs and services, yet fail our sons and daughters in the crucial activity of becoming an adult with an adult life?

Many years later and many gray hairs wiser, I understand what my friend meant about the need of young adults with disabilities to get a life. While access to appropriate services is vital, it is possible that the fight for services and the planning for future security (have we written our wills? created a special needs trust? will we need medical power of attorney?) can divert our attention from the simple fact that our sons and daughters are struggling to take on new and very different roles in their families and communities, and need our help and support to do so. Equating services alone, especially if they consist mainly in a continuation of the remedial activities found in most special education programs, with a successful transition to adulthood is a big mistake.

So what do people with disabilities need from their parents, teachers, and support staff to move successfully into a new stage of life, and not merely repeat and recycle the previous stage?
Transitioning Checklist

Courtesy of IDEA 2004, here is a parent/student checklist to help with the transitioning process. 

  • Confirm the date of your child's graduation. Federal law states that your child's eligibility for special education ends when s/he graduates from high school with a regular diploma or until the child reaches the age of eligibility for a free appropriate education under state law.
  • Clarify whether your child will receive a regular high school diploma or a certificate of attendance.
  • Clarify that your child will be able to fully participate in the graduation ceremony.
  • Find out what local agencies provide job coaching for transitioning youth. Contacting adult provider agencies before your child graduates or "ages out" will help to ensure that your child will continue to receive services after graduation. This may also prevent your child from being placed on a long waiting list for adult services.
  • You are entitled to invite representatives from other agencies to your child's IEP meetings.
  • If the IEP Team, which includes the parents and the child, determine that your child's transition needs can be met by participating in transition programs on college campuses or in community based settings, these services should be included in the child's IEP.
  • If your child has a Supports Coordinator from your local office of Mental Health, Behavioral Health, or Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities, invite the Supports Coordinator to IEP meetings during the last year of high school, if appropriate. This person can help to coordinate post-high school support services.
  • If your child will be eligible for services through Vocational Rehabilitation, schedule an appointment for an intake interview and file the necessary paperwork with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation ahead of time. Request that a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor attend the IEP meeting no later than spring of your child's last year in high school.
  • Discuss your child's transportation needs. If s/he will need assistance getting to and from work, request and fill out applications for public transportation services.
  • Request information about social/recreational opportunities for young adults with disabilities in your community. Ask for their contact information.
  • Request information about post-high school training programs at local vocational schools, community colleges, business schools, and state-affiliated training schools. 

 xtraRESOURCES - Extra Reading  

yapuNew to YAP University!
Our autism curriculum is now presented as self-learning trainings. The following trainings are available: What is Autism?, Sensory & Motor, Communication 101, Community Integration, and Honoring Preferred Interests and Challenges.

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The information and points of view contained in this newsletter are intended only to stimulate interest about topics of possibly shared concern.  Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. ("YAP") does not represent or endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of any information contained in, linked, or otherwise accessed through this newsletter.  This newsletter does not contain  medical advice and YAP accepts no responsibility for any errors (or omissions) contained in this newsletter.