WHY DO WE NEED A TRANSITION PLAN?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates a public education for all eligible children aged 3 to 21 years (in most states), and makes the schools responsible for providing the support and services which will allow this to happen. It is important to recognize that one of the goals of IDEA is to enable students to be prepared for employment and independent living. As you may know, IDEA requirements are facilitated through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. The IEP process must include transition planning services for all special education students at the age of 16. Ideally, this process should begin at the age of 14.The funding and the services available through IDEA are not available once the student has received a high school diploma, or aged out of the school system.
Transition Planning and the Individual Education Program
Transition services as outlined in S300.43 of IDEA
(a) Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that –
(1) Is designed to be within a result-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the disabled child to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(2) Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strength, preferences, and interests; and includes:
ii. Related services
iii. Community experiences
iv. The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives
v. If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation.
(b) Transition services for children with disabilities may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or a related service, if required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.
It is important be mindful that the transition process must include goals that are:
• Based upon the student’s strengths and areas of need
• Focused on instruction and services for education, employment, and other living skills.
This process will continue to evolve. The transition plan is a work in progress that should be monitored several times in an year. You and your adolescent with autism will continue to learn and grow during this process, and you will need to adjust your plans accordingly. By beginning early and working collaboratively with your school district, outside agencies and others in your community, you will be able to make the best possible use of educational entitlements afforded to your child with autism before he or she enters adulthood.