Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) provide essential services to meet the needs of students with disabilities. However, students only have IEPs from elementary school to high school (or age 22 if they are not diploma bound). What happens after they graduate?
Thankfully, there is a process to help students plan and prepare for how they will move forward. This IEP transition planning can be critical. However, it is important to note that parents and students should consider starting transition planning early.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. Your child will start playing a more active role
Students may have already been involved in IEP meetings in the past. However, they will take on a larger role when transition planning begins, so they can start preparing for their future, whether that involves:
- Career planning
- Higher education options
- Independent living options
If you and your child start considering these options early on, it can help them feel more comfortable taking on a more active role to advocate for themselves in their education – and their future.
2. The goals will change significantly
The goals in IEP transition planning will be very different from your child’s specific IEP goals. For example:
- If the plan is to attend college, goals might center around preparing for higher education with tailored planning and counseling
- If the plan is to start a career, then goals may focus more on obtaining internships or volunteer opportunities
Technically, these goals should already be a part of an IEP, especially by the time a child turns 16. But they become more of a priority as transition planning truly begins.
Your child’s post-high school goals might change as they find new interests and passions. That is why it is important to start considering transition planning early, so you can adjust to these changes as needed.
3. You should understand the details of transition planning
There are many aspects of transition planning, and many services provided to help students with disabilities. The California Department of Education offers a helpful guide, but considering transition planning early helps parents and students alike to understand:
- The services for which they could be eligible
- The rules of transition planning under the law
- Their rights in this time of transition
Fortunately, accommodations and accessibility are increasing in higher education, thanks to movements advocating for change often led by students. Even so, it is still important to prepare for an effective and helpful transition planning process.