Helping a student with disabilities plan and prepare for life after high school is called the post-secondary transition process. In Massachusetts, students receiving special education services are eligible for post-secondary transition planning and supports when the student turns 14 until they graduate or turn 22. Transition services can be offered earlier than the age of 14 if the IEP team agrees. Post-secondary transition is an ongoing process of planning, exploring, and discovery for the student and the student’s IEP team. Transition services are part of the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) offered to students by their public-school districts. The student, school staff (including teachers, support providers, and administrators), family members, and outside resources (including representatives from state agencies) should be contributing members of a student’s IEP team.

If you have a child 14 years of age or older, ask your school about transition planning.

 

Transition services need to begin as early as possible to give a student the best possible start to meaningful, engaged adult life.

By looking for answers about how to help your child get ready for life after high school, you are already off to a great start.  Students who have involved parents have more successful outcomes at every stage of their educational journey. Here are some other suggestions to help your child in their post-secondary transition (transition from high school to adult life).

  1. Learn more about transition issues
    • Decisions will have to be made about such matters as guardianship, sex education, sexual responsibility, driving, etc. based upon the person’s level of independence and competency, family values, and resources available to help with each issue.
  2. Set realistic goals
    • Include your son or daughter in setting goals for the future, and make sure that their school program prepares him/her to meet those goals. All students need to gain as many independent working and living skills as possible.
  3. Encourage gradual independence
    • Parents are not always going to be around. Begin to encourage independent travel, self-care activities, money management, and decision-making now. A person with disabilities may always need support, but each thing that he/she can do alone is a great gain.
  4. Familiarize yourself with adult service systems
  • Special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is an entitlement Students are entitled to education and support services until graduation or aging out at 22.  The adult service system is based on eligibility.  There may be wait lists for programs.  Parents need to know about the available programs and services and how to apply.
  1. Have high expectations
    • You are helping your child build a meaningful adult life. Having high expectations shows your child you believe in her/his abilities.  Teach your child out in the world such as doing laundry, preparing simple meals, or sewing on a button.
  2. Encourage social activities
    • Everyone needs friends. Young people with disabilities need to be out in their community, learning new things, attending events, exercising, having fun with their peers. Explore ways to get your child connected to your community.  Call your neighborhood community center or YMCA.
  3. Provide real experiences
    • All students should have a variety of experiences in work situations. Students with disabilities need these experiences to be able to make informed choices about employment. Specific goals targeting the skills needed to find a job and offering experiences in the working world need to be incorporated into the IEP. Parents should also look for ways to provide work experiences outside of school.
  4. Encourage good grooming and work habits
    • Take time to emphasize the importance of appropriate dress, good grooming skills, punctuality, reliability, and hard work.  Encourage students to take responsibility for themselves and their work. Give them responsibilities at home and school.
  5. Foster acceptance of feedback and criticism
    • Teenagers can be sensitive to the mildest criticism. Young people must learn to cope with the standards of the workplace and with unfair criticism. Practicing acceptable responses to criticism needs to begin early.
  6. Provide opportunities to manage money
    • People should be paid for their work. Teenagers are no different.  Gradually introduce money management. Talk about your expenses.  Let them practice buying needed items at the store.  As early as possible, encourage your child to shop using their own money and making a budget.

A student’s vision of what her/his adult life will look like should be the starting point for post-secondary transition planning.  The more involved the student is in the IEP process, the more motivated the student will be to achieve the goals necessary to be as independent as possible.

The student is an important part of the IEP team.  Other members include parents or caregivers, educators, school support staff, transition coordinators, and, possibly, representatives from outside support organizations. No matter how many other members are on the IEP team, the student and the student’s vision remain the center of the process. When the student leaves high school, all of the assessments, planning, and experiences in school and in the community will come together to put the student on a path to learning, working, and living as independently as possible.  

Self-Direction Position Statement  from the Arc of Massachusetts

The services and supports available to a student in high school between the ages of 14 and 22 are called post-secondary transition or transition services. 

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transition services are a “coordinated set of activities… based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account his/her strengths, preferences, and interests. Transition services can help young adults to live, work, participate in the community, and go on to further education or training as independently as possible when they leave high school. Transition services are intended to improve academic and functional achievement and to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities.” (https://sites.ed.gov/idea)

 

Post-secondary transition services can include the following:

  • post-secondary education
    • including community colleges, colleges, universities, and career training programs
  • vocational education
    • including the development of employment goals through Pre-Employment Transition Services (or Pre-ETS)
  • integrated employment (including supported employment)
  • continuing and adult education
  • connection to adult services
  • post-high school adult living objectives
  • independent living or community participation
  • healthcare transition

The services and supports available to a student in high school between the ages of 14 and 22 are called post-secondary transition or transition services. 

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transition services are a “coordinated set of activities… based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account his/her strengths, preferences, and interests. Transition services can help young adults to live, work, participate in the community, and go on to further education or training as independently as possible when they leave high school. Transition services are intended to improve academic and functional achievement and to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities.” (https://sites.ed.gov/idea)

 

Post-secondary transition services can include the following:

  • post-secondary education
    • including community colleges, colleges, universities, and career training programs
  • vocational education
    • including the development of employment goals through Pre-Employment Transition Services (or Pre-ETS)
  • integrated employment (including supported employment)
  • continuing and adult education
  • connection to adult services
  • post-high school adult living objectives
  • independent living or community participation
  • healthcare transition