You don’t go to the IRS for help with your taxes…am I right? This question is one of my favorite things to say to parents when they want extra support in working with their child’s IEP team, and more specifically, transition planning for their special needs child. Just like the IRS wouldn’t be the only place to get help with your taxes, going to your school is not the only place to go when you’re having challenges with transition planning.
What IDEA says about transition planning
IDEA special education law is particular on the school’s responsibility when it comes to transition planning. Your child’s IEP must have the following:
- Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
- The transition services (including courses of study) are needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
Transition services should be based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account your child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and includes:
- Related services
- Community experiences
- The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives
- If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
You can find additional information on what IDEA says about Secondary Transition here.
Transition Planning Beyond the IEP
However, there is so much more to transition planning that the school may not know or want to open “that can of worms” because it doesn’t fit into their mold of how they do things, or they don’t have the resources. This is when you need a qualified professional to work with you and your child on developing a solid transition plan both in their IEP and outside of school.
Transition planning professionals work with families, open up, and deal with “that can of worms.” The results for your child can change the course of their adult lives. Some other essential items a transition planning professional can assist a parent with are:
- Applying with your Department of Mental Health
- Applying for adult Medicaid and social security
- Finding a place to live (if not at home)
- Benefits planning
- Guardianship or alternatives
- Day services
- Funding streams
These critical transition planning items are addressed at school, and parents are expected to navigate a system they are not familiar with all by themselves. Unfortunately, there is a saying that is used to describe transitioning from high school to adulthood…It’s called “falling off the cliff.” Together with a transition planning professional, you can change that to “soaring off the cliff!”
As you don’t necessarily have to distrust IRS, you also do not need to necessarily doubt the school! The school can play a huge part in the planning process. But just as you would not count on the IRS to find you all your deductions, you shouldn’t necessarily rely on your school to help you jump through the hoops and find all the avenues to find your transition-age child all the help they could receive. A special needs transition planning professional makes sure your transition-age child gets every resource available to them.
About the author
Jennifer Hulme is a special needs transition planning professional who is the course director for the Transition Planning RE-BOOT Camp offered through Vitalxchange. You can follow her on Vitalxchange and connect with her on her page.