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- How Common is Autism?
- Early Signs of Autism
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- Beware of Non-Evidence-Based Treatments
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- Autism Science
- Quick Facts About Autism
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Creating a Transition Plan
General Steps for Creating a Transition Plan
The transition plan meeting is very similar to the IEP meetings your family has attended throughout your child’s education. Your child’s general and special education teachers, the school principal and any other staff involved with your child (therapists, psychologists, service coordinators, etc.) will all attend. However, unlike IEP meetings of the past, this meeting will focus on goals for your child to achieve outside of the school setting. Therefore, it is important to come up with goals that are:
- Outcome-oriented. Families must understand the specifics of what their child is expected to achieve through the creation of this plan.
- Based on the individual’s strengths and areas of need. It is important for families to acknowledge what their adolescent excels at and struggles with in order to make appropriate and realistic plans for the future.
- Focused on instruction and services for education, employment and other living skills. All aspects of adulthood must be considered within the goals generated, including where the individual will live, what will s/he do and which supports will be provided.
The following steps should be completed during the transition meeting:
- Describe the student’s strengths, functional performance and present levels of academic achievement. While the education professionals and therapists will provide this information, it is important that you and your child contribute as well.
- Develop measurable postsecondary goals. Your goals should specify dates or you should make a timeline indicating when specific goals should be completed. For example: After graduating from high school, Joe will work for at least one year at the coffee shop.
- Develop corresponding IEP goals that will enable the student to meet postsecondary goals. These IEP goals are the stepping-stones of the postsecondary goals; goals should build upon one another in order to achieve the overall or postsecondary goal. Again, dates and timelines should be included in these goals.
- Describe the transition services needed. Often these services consist of instructions and trainings, but be sure they target specific skills. Try to be as precise as possible. Instead of saying, “Instruction to become coffee shop employee” think of concrete activities the individual will need to know such as training in social interaction, handling of the cash register, etc.
Resources for transitioning and the transition process:
- Transition | Wright’s Law
- IDEA | U.S. Dept. of Education
- The College Internship Program – transition for those with ASD and learning differences
- State Department of Education contact information | Wright’s Law
- Casey Life Skills – tests independent living skills
Age of Majority
The age of majority is the legal age (usually 18 years old) under state law that an individual is no longer a minor and has the right and responsibility to make their own decisions. There are several ways to prepare your child early on to make decisions and advocate for himself or herself.
- Begin early: You can encourage and train your children to be great decision-makers from the very beginning. Include your child in choosing what to wear, what to eat, and scheduling out work and play activities. You can also model decision-making by including your child in your decision making process.
- In school: Once your child begins attending IEP meetings, be sure to include him or her in decision-making. Ask you child questions and prepare beforehand for meetings. Also make sure that decision-making skills are included on the IEP goals
There are a range of other options if your child is not ready to make decisions independently by the age of majority. The IEP Team (which should consist of you, your student, and related school personnel or job coaches) should decide on whether or not to transfer rights by age 17. Dependent on your state laws for special education, you may be able to work out decision-making rules with your student and school personnel (such as sharing decisions with or delegating decision-making to the parents).
In contrast, the options listed below are court ordered. They may be the best option when a student is unable to make informed decisions by themselves, but may also severely limit the independence and rights of your student. Consider less restrictive alternatives to guardianship before deciding on it.
- Court Appointed Guardianship: All decision-making rights are transferred to a parent or another adult (called a “legal guardian”).
- Conservatorship: A person (called a “conserver”, usually a parent) has the rights to make some decisions for the student. Decisions that the student will make and the conserver will make should be listed out.
Resources for age of majority and guardianship:
- Age of Majority | Center for Parent Information and Resources
- Guardianship | National Guardianship Association
- The Arc – for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Transferring of Assistive Technology
An often-overlooked component of the transition process is the transferring of AT devices. During the transition meeting, the IEP should list all AT devices used by the student, from high tech to low tech. High tech devices are typically defined as devices that incorporate sophisticated software or computers while low tech generally refers to simple adaptations, such as pencil grips or slant boards for writing. As these AT devices are listed on the IEP, it should be noted who has ownership of each of the devices. If the device was purchased through the families’ insurance, it remains property of the student, but if the device was purchased through the school system, it is then property of the school and the district decides how it can be best used in the future.
Since funding sources will change once the student graduates, individuals will need to consider how they will obtain AT devices in the future. For many families, this means purchasing the equipment themselves. This can be rather costly, especially for families looking to buy high tech assistive technology. There are a variety of options for those who need funding assistance. Click here for a state-by-state list of assistive technology and alternative financing programs that can provide financial assistance to families to obtain their required devices.
Other sources of funding and assistance include:
- Equipment loan programs
- Disability organizations
- Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Assistive technology can make a drastic difference in your young adult’s life so do not let the cost prevent your child from reaching his or her full potential. Take the time to research and reach out to all of your options.