Transition...what is it? Transition is a process and a mandated addition to an IEP. Schools are required to provide a transition plan from16 years of age for all IEP students BUT what should a transition plan contain? Due to the fact that each IEP student is unique in their educational needs each IEP and therefore each transition plan needs to be developed individually.
A good transition plan will reflect each child's levels of performance and provide methods that will address areas that need to be addressed. These areas can include academics, but also may focus on social/emotional goals, life skills needs, and of course an exploration of vocational potentials.
A good transition plan will allow for the teens needs to explore and learn from their successes and from their failures. Missteps need to be taken in stride and new opportunities need to be presented so the teen can re-focus their goals with their newly acquired knowledge.
While the strength of a good transition plan is it's flexibility this may also be it's weakness.
Since there is little available that can concretely define a given students transition plan each student and their family must struggle with the school team to develop a meaningful plan that allows for appropriate opportunities that lead to the highest level of independence for that student.
An essential part of a good transition plan and possibly the most overlooked aspect is the opportunity for the teen to develop self-awareness and self-advocacy skills. Teens with special needs must be provided with ample opportunities to learn about their strengths and their challenges and assisted in their understanding of the impact these may have on their future choices. All young adults with special needs must learn how to speak up for themselves and explain what they need in langugage they can understand. Again, the form this self-advocacy takes can range from simply learning when, where and how to say, "NO!" to explaining ones particular learning needs to a college professor.
The IEP does NOT follow the student after he/she is 21 and there is no mandate for services to continue. Therefore, adults with special needs are required to identify and document their needs and in most cases the supports that will allow them to be successful.
This is the true purpose of a good "transition plan".