Just a few weeks ago my 21 year old daughter walked out of her high school for the very last time. This has been our safety net amongst many other things for the past 17 years... Just writing this brings a wave of anxiety over me (more on this later...) As I have reflected on our "expedition" into transition, it has been a dynamic and fluid concept that has evolved over time. I used to hear the word "transition" and it would strike fear into my heart. However, as I have learned as a parent that one of the most critical concepts to guide my advocacy for my daughter has been to refer to the Iowa special education law. While special education has made vast and enormous improvements from when IDEA first was made into law, there remains much work to be done. While summer is upon us, and many parents are breathing a sigh of relief, there is also concern for what comes next. For those with students that are entering high school, or somewhere in between, transition is sort of an unknown entity that exists. I am sharing what I have found to be the most helpful for me that guided me in this process. I inserted the portion of the special education law that specifically addresses transition below:
281—41.43(256B,34CFR300) Transition services.
41.43(1) General. “Transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a
disability and meets the following description:
a. Is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic
and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to
postschool activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment
(including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living,
or community participation;
b. Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences,
and interests; and includes the following:
(2) Related services;
(3) Community experiences;
(4) The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
(5) If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational
While there is a lot of room for interpretation, there are also specifics that are addressed. Your child should have the above items addressed when planning for transition; to include community experiences and the development of employment, as well as functional living skills. As you enjoy the "lazy" days of summer, be thinking of how you can help the IEP team to address these specifics for your child. Do you have connections with a business owner or manager who might be willing to let your son or daughter come in and volunteer? Volunteering is the best way for a student to gain very valuable job experience. Take advantage of these open days, and explore the options around you and the contacts that you have to begin your students resume and job experience through volunteering.