It’s important to start talking with
children early about what transition after high school is going to look like,
but the transition plan itself must be in place at the age of 16 in the IEP.
That should include postsecondary goals as well as transition services.
So those postsecondary goals should be very specific, not vague aspirational
goals but very concrete steps that you expect your child to take after high
school. It is so important that they have particular steps that they’re going to
take, what types of services do they need to visit college campuses, do they need
to be familiar with how to navigate in the community, how to
self-advocate, how to ask for the services that they need. The transition
plan should include realistic but achievable goals. For example, some
students might say I want to play in the NBA after I graduate from high school,
and they’re not playing basketball in high school. That would be an
aspirational goal, but one that’s not very realistic. But a realistic goal would be
to attend community college, to get a technical degree, or to go work in
supported employment, in a veterinary clinic if that student is really
interested in animals. If it’s not realistic to expect that a student is
going to be in the tiny percentage of those who get to play in the NBA, but the
student really loves basketball, then they might be able to work as, it may be
volunteer initially, as a manager on a college sports team, or a local sports
team, or, you know, go to community community college and get a degree in
something related to athletics, like athletic training or something like that.
So there are a lot of ways that they can work either as a volunteer or eventually
in paid employment, in a field in which they’re particularly interested. Parents
know their children better than anyone, so you know the conversations that
you’ve had, you know what your child is interested in, and you can share that
with the IEP team. You can talk about the things that you know your child wants to
do, and of course the child should be a part of the process as well. They should
be attending the IEP meeting, and adding their thoughts and
opinions and feelings about what they want to be doing after high school. But
the parents really are an important participant in that process, because
again they know the child better than anyone, and have shared in helping
create the dreams and the vision that the child has for the future.