Throughout life, families and children experience many transitions. As children reach three years of age, they transition from early intervention (birth-3) to special education services (3-21). Families are faced with moving from family focused services within the child’s natural environment to preschool programs that are child focused. They go from having an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) to and Individual Education Plan (IEP).
This process can be overwhelming for families, thus it is important for the transition process to begin at least six months before the actual date of transition. Throughout the transition process there needs to be open communication between the family and all team members. The team should focus on the individual child’s needs throughout the transition planning process.
The transition process provides time for the new school or program to prepare and best meet the child’s needs. It allows time to reduce fears of the unknown as well as minimize the stress the family may experience. The transition process provides opportunities for families to be equal partners throughout the process. By beginning early, it prevents interruptions in services to the child. During the transition process, families can build new relationships with staff and become involved in the new school. Lastly, the child is supported during the transition process to adapt to their new environment (Minor, n.d.).
Below is a collection of considerations and strategies for families and educational teams of children with combined vision and hear loss and additional disabilities to assist in supporting a successful transition from early intervention services to preschool programs and from preschool programs to elementary school.
Questions to consider
- Is the learning environment structured and consistent?
- What environment adaptations need to be put into place? (examples: color contrast at mealtime such as having yellow eggs in a white or dark blue dish, shelves and materials labeled in Braille or with tactile markers, seating the child with his/her back towards the windows)
- Does the child have a communication system? If so, what mode or system is being used (ex. tactile sign, picture symbols, tactile symbols augmentative communication devices, object cues, sign language, spoken English, total communication)?
- Does the child have the skills to make choices, request assistance, and appropriately communicate his/her emotions?
- Does this child have the skills to interact socially with his/her peers?
- How can we, as the educational team, help the child begin to develop communication and social skills?
Questions about service delivery
- What kinds of specialized services will the child receive at the new school/program?
- How frequently will the services be available to the child?
- Will the services be provided directly through the center staff or through consultation?
- Will the services be provided within the classroom or separate room using a pull out model?