Transition Planning: Why it is Important
Transition into the adult world can presents challenge for all young people. The process of transition may be more difficult for some youth with disabilities and will require unique strategies to enable each student to achieve the maximum possible independence in working, living and participating in the community as adults.
Transition planning is a process that brings together a student, family and those individuals directly involved in helping the student prepare to enter a post-school environment. It is designed to ensure that the student will be provided the necessary skills and services to make a smooth transition from school to adult life with as little interruption as possible. Unless the transition process is formalized, little thought or planning is given to the student’s future service or program needs.
Quality transition planning is achieved when the process is initiated at an early age (age 13 or younger). A team comprised of the student, family member(s), school personnel, agency representatives and significant others, meet to assist the young student in defining a vision for the future. The overall value of the meeting is the sharing of knowledge about the student’s strengths, interests, and preferences in order to create a map of where help is needed, and what experiences are going to be valuable over the high school years.
There are three areas that must be discussed when participating in a transition planning meeting
What is the student’s long term goal in the area of :
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It is critical that the PPT defines the answers to the above questions, as without appropriate and substantive responses to these questions, it will be very difficult to develop a sequential/coordinated plan to prepare the student to reach his/her independence in each of the stated areas. Waiting until a student is in the junior year of high school is simply too late to begin the transition process. As mandated by the reauthorization of I.D.E.A., all students must have transition plans by age 16. For students with challenges in the above areas, the PPT should begin working on related skills and independence as early in the student’s education, preferably by grade 6.
Lastly, it is important to remember that there is no “system” like special education that entitles a student to receive appropriate supports and services after they graduate from high school.