By: Sonu Rangnekar, NEC Family Specialist
Each transition in our child’s life brings change at multiple levels, be it birth-3 to preschool or elementary to middle school or middle school to high school. But of all the transitions, it is the secondary transition (transition from high school to adulthood) that brings the biggest and most complex changes in the lives of our kids.
Because transition into the adult world has its own unique challenges, it is essential to ensure a smooth transition. For that, it is imperative to start planning for it as early as possible and to begin asking critical questions like: what is the transition process from school to adult life? who is involved, and how does one get from school to adult life successfully? what does the transition timeline look like? what tasks need to be completed by what age and by whom?
Secondary transition planning can help define a vision for the future for your child, and prepare him or her for this big transition.
Transition planning is a federal mandate under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It is recommended that transition planning begins no later than age 14 by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT), also known as an IEP Team.
Transition is about thinking ahead for the future by preparing the student to enter a post-high school environment successfully. Transition is not a race, but a journey with many stops and experiences along the way. If you have a child 14 years of age or older, ask your school about transition planning. Waiting until your child is ready to graduate is too late to begin the transition process.
Transition planning is a process that ensures that while still in school, the student is provided the necessary skills and services to make a smooth transition from school to adult life.
Transition planning should be a team effort, and the team should comprise of the student, parents and other family member(s), school personnel, service providers, educational team and relevant state agency representatives. The advantage of working as a team is the sharing of knowledge about the student’s strengths, interests, challenges 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. The team should meet on a regular basis for a series of transition planning meetings to ascertain the following-
The Role of Parents
Parents are integral members of the Planning and Placement Team and they play a significant role in transition planning. As a parent, you bring a wealth of information about your child which is critical to effective transition planning.
There are many ways that parents can help to make sure that their child’s transition is as smooth as possible, including:
The school serves as the initial and primary source for the preparation for transition. The involvement of teachers, guidance counselors, vocational educators, social workers, psychologists, and service providers is essential to the transition planning process.
Ensure that the school and your child’s educational team is actively involved in the Transition Planning. Make sure they provide you with information about, and assist you in making referrals to, state agencies like Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), Department of Developmental Services (DDS), state agencies like Board of Education & Services to the Blind (BESB) (these agencies may go by different names in different states).
NEC’s TTI -Transition Team Initiative is specifically designed for transition aged students (14 to 22 yrs). Under this program, NEC can offer resources, training and services that help in planning a successful transition. Please reach out to us, with specific questions or if you need assistance on specific transition related matters.