Transition Planning

Transition planning is a results-oriented process designed to facilitate the successful movement of high school-aged youth with disabilities from school to adult life. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (2004) requires that transition services be included in a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) when she or he is 16 years old or younger. (Some states require the process to begin at 14).

IDEA Requirements

According to the IDEA transition plans should be based on:

  •  A coordinated set of results-oriented activities
  • The student’s needs, taking into account his or her strengths, interests and preferences
  • Appropriate and ongoing assessment related to education, training, employment and independent living skills
  • Specific and measurable postsecondary goals related to integrated employment, postsecondary education, continuing education, adult services and independent living or community participation

Plans should also:

  • Include transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching his or her goals
  • And identify those responsible for helping the student achieve her or his transition goals

The transition plan should be specific in how the student with ASD will achieve her or his desired outcomes. For example, “Jeff will look into getting a job,” does not detail the kind of support that most individuals with ASD would need to find a job or pursue a career. The plan should include:

  • Goals related to specialized instruction Jeff may need
  • Identify appropriate assessments
  • Describe accommodations he might need including those for communication and social interaction

Other specific supports that school personnel or representatives from other agencies might provide as he pursues employment

Summary of Performance

The IDEA also requires that schools provide a summary of performance (SOP) for students with disabilities when they complete school. This SOP should include a summary of academic and functional performance, including recommendations to assist the student in meeting postsecondary goals. The SOP can be especially useful to students with ASD who are going on to postsecondary education or employment and who will need to advocate for themselves in obtaining accommodations.

Success Factors

A number of factors are associated with successful transition for youth with ASDs. These include:

  • Participation in school and social activities with nondisabled peers
  • Active student and family involvement in the transition planning process
  • Student-centered planning in which goals are based on the students’ individual needs and interests
  • Employment experiences while in high school
  • Instruction in community settings in which the person is likely to live or work, especially in the final years of high school
  • Support and instruction related to self-determination and self-advocacy

Collaboration among school personnel, families, and adult service personnel to ensure the person with ASD receives the range of emotional, vocational, educational, medical and community supports she or he may need

Date posted: March 29, 2011. Content created by The University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies. Last updated: March 21, 2018.

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