Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Creating a Transition Plan

There are 3 main steps to creating a transition plan:
1. Identify the student’s preferences and interests
2. Identify the agencies and resources that may be helpful in planning the transition
3. What does this student need?
 Assessment that identifies current strengths, needs, interests, and preferences
 Development of job and job placement options and awareness of skills needed
 Matching of student and job
 School and work based training and preparation
 Placement and follow along

The completion of high school is the beginning of adult life. Students can choose to go to a 2 year college, 4 year college, or go into the workplace. For students with disabilities, these choices may be more complex and may require a great deal of planning. By law, transition planning must start once a student reaches 14 years of age, or younger, if appropriate. This transition planning becomes a part of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Transition services are intended to prepare students to make the transition from school to the world after school. In planning what type of transition services a student needs to prepare for adulthood, academic ability, vocational ability, living arrangements, and transportation need to be taken into consideration. There may be other issues that are important to each individual student also. Teachers should integrate this into their lessons throughout the year.

Students and families should take active roles in preparing to take responsibility for their own lives once school is finished. Students will need to organize their own lives and needs and learn to navigate among an array of adult service providers and federal, state, and local programs. This can be an overwhelming task that the students and their families need to prepare for.

I am amazed at how many of our students do not learn the everyday living skills needed for when they graduate. As a special education teacher, I have taught budgeting, checking accounts, sewing buttons, cooking simple meals that a regular education teacher doesn’t have the time to do because of standards, testing, and other requirements. My school hasn’t taught home economics in years so I’m not sure who will be teaching the students these skills. If they have parents who work, the parents don’t have time for this and the school doesn’t have time for this so the student ends up losing. I don’t know how other schools do it, but our guidance counselors ended up with the heavy burden of making sure the students took an economic class that would help cover some of these skills. Luckily I was able to write these needs in an IEP and was required to teach these skills.

I had a mentally disabled student who I worked very hard with in getting a job. He had this job during his senior year so I could work with him on his job skills. Luckily he did an outstanding job and the employer loved him. Unfortunately I didn’t do so well with teaching him about leisure and recreational outlets when he wasn’t working. During school, he had friends and a support system which ceased to exist after he graduated. After he graduated he was calling me every day he wasn’t working because he was so lonely. Even though he had 2 loving parents, they had jobs to go to and couldn’t entertain him so that when they were at work, he was cooped up in the house. I encouraged him to seek out his pastor and see what volunteer opportunities were available for him and if there was transportation available also.

With the economy going downhill, it is getting harder and harder for many to find jobs so it is important for our students to start thinking early. They need to realize the route they choose will affect their whole lives.

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