Although this discussion may not come into play for many years in special needs families, the idea of transitioning from high school into adulthood is one that is often fraught with numerous concerns for parents, special needs children and their teachers. While the law, has specified some instructions for this process in the past, the United States Department of Education published a newly updated guide to this process in January 2017. Many of the parts of the guidelines have stayed the same, but some have been updated. In addition, parents should keep in mind that their particular school districts may have rules that are even more stringent than these. The basics are outlined below.
- First, transition planning to adulthood must begin by a certain age. In most districts, that age is 16. However, some districts may specify 14 or 15. Additionally, parents and school district administrators may begin planning at an earlier age if they feel that it is necessary for optimal growth.
- Second, transitioning must be measurable. Some of the measurements will be in the form of formal and informal assessments, including standardized tests, career inventories, classroom tests and teacher recommendations. However, other measurements will relate to goals that have been set in the IEP at the beginning of the school year. These goals encompass many realms, including academic, social, physical and more. The student should be encouraged to set goals as well based on his or her plans for after high school.
- Third, parents and teachers must keep in mind that there will be an end to special education services at some point, and they should plan for this. For most special needs students, this occurs when the teenager graduates from high school per the school district’s requirement. For others who cannot meet the graduation requirements, all special education resources end when they turn 22.
Because there is always an end to government-funded special education, parents and their special needs children must keep a constant eye on the future. They must be proactive in discussing and deciding on a career or college choice and must take active steps to improve themselves. For those who need help planning for adulthood or for those who feel that they are not receiving the necessary transition services through the local school district, attorneys at Newman, Aaronson, Vanaman are ready to help.