Transitions occur throughout our lives. For students who receive Exceptional Student Education services, the term “transition” refers to the process of assisting students, ages 14–22, to plan for the transition from high school into adult life. The transition planning process assists students and their parents to prepare for that next step. Students, with the support of others, are encouraged to think about their goals beyond high school in the areas of employment, further education or training, participation in their communities, and independent living, if appropriate. Through transition planning, parents, teachers, and other service providers (as appropriate) help the student address these questions:
- Who am I? What are my unique skills and talents?
- Where am I going? What do I want in life, now and in the future?
- How do I get there?
- What are some of life's demands that I can meet now?
- What are the main barriers to getting what I want from school and from my community?
- What are my options in the school and the community for preparing me for what I want, now and in the future?
The purpose of transition is to:
- Support students as they think about the future.
- Assist students in setting goals.
- Access high school academics, services and programs through which students may gain the skills and competencies to achieve their goals.
- Connect with post-school services, agencies or programs before the students exit high school in order to sustain support toward their long-term goals.
Transition planning varies among students because each student has unique needs, strengths, interests and preferences. Students and families are vital to the transition planning process—and contribute the most important voices. Transition planning is a time when the IEP team, including parents, is there to help the student make plans for his or her future. The student and his or her IEP team create a vision for the future, and then each year specific goals and services are identified to work toward that vision. Transition is a process that builds on itself each year, and goals evolve and change as the student gets older and gains new insights. The IEP team should consider:
- Assessment specific to transition preferences, needs, strengths and interests
- Related services
- Community experiences
and, if needed,
- Vocational evaluation
- Daily living skills
- Connecting with community agencies
With this level of planning, it is important to involve people who can work with a student to make long-term plans a reality. As transition planning begins (when the student is 14 years old), it is important that students actively and fully participate in this process and that their interests and preferences are considered. It is equally important to determine which program or course of study the student needs to achieve transition goals. IEP teams can begin to involve adult service agencies and others who can provide important information and services as the student approaches graduation.
Transition from school to adult life is also the process of moving from entitlement to eligibility services. A student who receives exceptional student education services is entitled to those services, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act or IDEA. Once a student leaves the school system, he/she must meet eligibility criteria to receive services from adult service agencies. The difference between public education entitlements and adult services eligibility criteria can be confusing, and each agency has distinct eligibility criteria. Long before
the student reaches the final year of school, the IEP team must determine which agencies to involve in transition planning to establish the necessary linkages. With effective, early planning, students will have more time to create opportunities for themselves and achieve their goals. Read for suggestions on relevant topics:
For an suggestions of relevant topics in each area, Illustration of the Four Principle Transition Areas
. Student Involvement and Self-Determination
Ten Pointers for Parents
Transition to Adult Life: Tips for Teens Transition Activities Checklist for Parents and Students
Pinellas Interagency Networking Council for Students (PINCS)
was created to support and enhance coordination of services and supports for students with disabilities, and to assist students and their parents in accessing these services. PINCS is a forum of agencies, school professionals and emplyers that meet to exchange ideas, services and information while advocating for these students. PINCS serves as a catalyst for community resource development while pairing a student's needs and interests with appropriate agencies. www.PINCS.org