As graduation season passes, you may worry about the transition when your child has a disability. When will your child graduate? Is college an option? Will your child be able to hold a job and live independently?
The Individuals with Disabilities Act requires an individualized transition plan (ITP) be in place by the time a child reaches 16 – earlier planning is even better. This plan is similar to an individualized education plan (IEP), but it is designed to smooth the transition to adulthood.
The law requires that the young person be part of the team that develops the IEP/ITP. This way his or her goals are front and center. It also can help with self-advocacy skills needed.
Why is self advocacy important?
Most colleges and universities have services available for young adults with disabilities. But it is often necessary to proactively contact the office and request help.
The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to employers who have more than 15 employees. It requires that reasonable accommodation is made for those with disabilities unless it would cause undue hardship. To take advantage of this law often requires advocating for changes in the work environment.
Transition planning is a time to address pain points and how to overcome them. For an individual on the autism spectrum, it may mean requesting a quiet office space or a work from home option. For another individual privacy might be more important and there might be ways to do a job without disclosing a disability.
Signs a transition plan may be inadequate
As with each IEP, it is important to carefully review a transition plan. Unfortunately a common mistake that schools make is failing to include useful information in ITPs.
Some questions parents should ask while reviewing the plan are:
- Have my child’s unique skills, interests and goals been taken into account?
- Are other services identified? Are other agencies invited to participate?
- Who does what? How are costs split between a district and other agencies?
Once youth graduate, the special education services offered through the school district stop. An inadequate transition plan may leave your child unprepared for adulthood. When questions or concerns arise, a special education attorney can provide answers about your child’s rights.