PLANNING FOR ADULTHOOD

Strategies and Things to Consider

TRANSFER OF RIGHTS

When a student turns 18, they legally become their own decision maker.  The rights you have a parent, become the rights of the student, unless you get legal guardianship of the student.  (In order to gain guardianship, it is a legal process through the courts.  Learn more here.) . Students will have to give consent to invite parents to meetings. When changes are made to the IEP, the school will have to get the permission of the student rather than the parent. This also applies outside of school including in the medical setting, so it is important that you work with your child on advocating for their needs and knowing their personal information and health history. For more information on what happens when your child turns 18, check out this resource

ENTITLEMENT VS ELIGIBILITY

Students are entitled for special education services from age 3 to 21 (or upon high school graduation) based on IDEA.  After graduation or 21, in order to receive services a student must meet eligibility criteria.  Every agency has different requirements for eligibility that may be different than the amount of supports provided in high school through the IEP.  It is important to start talking to service agencies sooner rather than later so that services are available when you need it.  Unfortunately, many agencies have significant waiting times, so it really is important to start conversations with different service representatives before your child has even entered high school in most cases. 

Families who do not speak English, should plan on having an interpreter to accompany them to meet with service agencies.  Most agencies have documents available in different languages, so it is important to ask if there is a copy available.  

For students who are DACA it is important for families to know whether their child is eligible to work or if they can be admitted to post-secondary education programs and be eligible for financial aid.

STRATEGIES FOR PARENTS

  • Encourage your child from an early age to communicate their needs, preferences, and interests.  Advocating and communication are essential skills that adults need to live independently. 

  • Give your child responsibilities at home including household chores so they can practice daily living skills. 

  • Try to be positive about your child's future and talk with them about your goals for their future.  Listen to their goals and support them as well. 

  • Encourage your child to make their own decisions and accept consequences for these decisions. 

  • Explore options for life after school so your child can find the right fit. 

  • Make sure your child knows their personal information, including their health history. 

  • Lean on your natural support network and don't be afraid to ask for help. 

  • Learn with your child about what opportunities are available in your community.  

  • Encourage your child to maintain friendships and talk with them about healthy relationships. 

  • Figure out what training/education path is best for your child based on their goals for employment.  If you are not familiar with vocational schools or college application process, learn with your child about them to better support them. 

STRATEGIES FOR STUDENTS

  • Know and be able to talk about your strengths! 

  • Explore early on what types of careers you might be interested in.  If possible ask your school or someone in your community if you can shadow them or interview them about what their work day is like. 

  • Don't be afraid to change your mind.  It's normal to switch career paths based on experiences. Be open to careers you thought you would never want to do. 

  • Practice speaking up for yourself and telling people your needs.  Figure out what you need to be successful and don't be afraid to ask for help.  

  • Know your personal information and health history.  Obtain a photo ID and make sure to bring it with you. 

  • Set your own goals, decide on what steps you need to take to reach that goal, and reflect on whether that goal is met or if you need to change their plan. 

  • Commit to healthy relationships and friendships.  Know who you can count on! 

  • Find ways to express your feelings and strategies to help calm you when you are mad or stressed. 

  • Be open to receiving feedback and learn from your mistakes. 

  • Devote yourself to your school work and create good working habits. 

  • Participate in community service opportunities

  • Learn how to prioritize tasks and practice time management strategies. 

QUESTIONS TO ASK

  • What type of job would I like to have in 10 years? 

  • What education or training do I need to reach my dream job? 

  • What skills do I need to work on to be successful? 

  • What are my major concerns/fears about life after school? 

  • Where will I live after I graduate? 

  • How will I get around the community? 

  • How will I manage my money and expenses? 

  • Who do I go to after high school when I need help?

 
Timeline for Transitions Activities
Build Early Knowledge and Skills
Early Childhood
Varies
Early Childhood
Varies
Before your child turns 5, it is often the parents responsibility to build the early knowledge and skills needed to be successful in school. This includes reading out loud to your child, modelling how to have social relationships, and building communication strategies. ...
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Referral to First Steps
Before Age 3
Missouri
Before Age 3
Missouri
If your child has a developmental disability, you should contact Missouri First Steps before your child turns 3. First Steps aims to help families with children with disabilities and works with families to coordinate services. More Info
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Become Involved in School
Elementary School
School
Elementary School
School
It is important to be involved with your child's school from the beginning. You should be aware of how your child is performing in school in terms of academics and social skills. You have a right to all of their records. Many schools offer parent information nights in elementary schools.
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Join a Parent Advocacy Organization
Elementary School
Varies
Elementary School
Varies
Keeping updated with changes in legislation and current issues related to disability is important to helping to support your child. Explore advocacy organizations and attend their meetings or join their group. This also gives you the opportunity to network with parents of older students ...
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Teach Your Child Self-Advocacy
Elementary School
Everywhere
Elementary School
Everywhere
It is essential that your child knows how to ask for help when they need it and to communicate with others about their needs, wants, and likes. Teach your child how to communicate properly with their teachers, classmates, and others. This will help to ensure that your child's needs are being met ...
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Identify Disability Services
Elementary School
Varies
Elementary School
Varies
If your child has a developmental disability, one that will significantly limit an individual's functioning in multiple life activities, then you should connect with Disability Services in Elementary School. These include (but are not limited to) Medicaid/Medicare, Supplemental Security Income/ ...
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Career Day/Job Shadow
Elementary and Middle School
Varies
Elementary and Middle School
Varies
Students should start thinking about careers in elementary school. Accompany your child to see what a job is like and if possible have them ask questions of people who work there. Even at a young age, children know what they like and don't like and this will help them to explore options and narrow
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Consider the Future
Age 11-14
Varies
Age 11-14
Varies
Students should start to think about what they would like to do when they graduate high school. Students start to choose electives in 8th grade and if you know what you might want to do after high school it will help you pick classes that will help you to be successful and engaged in your learning.
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Guardianship
Middle School
Varies
Middle School
Varies
Parents should consider whether they will be needing to have guardianship over their child or whether they will be able to act as their own decision maker. Guardianship and power of attorney (medical and business decisions) are legal processes so it is important to look at options early to have this
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Establish Transitions Plan
No later than Age 16
School
No later than Age 16
School
Your IEP team is required to create a transitions plan no later than the student turning 16. A coordinated set of activities will be planned to help the student reach their self-identified post-secondary goals in the areas of employment, education/training, and independent living (if appropriate).
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Practice Self-Determination Skills
High School
Everywhere
High School
Everywhere
It is important for students to develop self-determination skills by the time they get to high school. Self determination involves setting goals, creating plan to reach those goals, and reflecting on the plan to see if it is working or needs changes.
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Pre-Employment Transition Skills
High School (9th-11th)
School
High School (9th-11th)
School
Students will work on Pre-Employment Transition skills from 9th-11th grade. Pre-Employment Transitions skills include Job Exploration counseling, work based learning, counseling on post-secondary education and training programs, workplace readiness training, and self advocacy. Students also complete
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Obtain Driver's License
16-18
D.M.V
16-18
D.M.V
Students planning to drive should obtain their permit and driver's license before graduating from high school. Students should be familiar with the traffic regulations and should maintain all safety precautions while driving. A license also serves as a form of identification.
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Visit Colleges and Vocational Schools
10th-12th grade
Varies
10th-12th grade
Varies
Students should visit multiple colleges and vocational schools to find the right fit for post-secondary education and/or training. Students should make sure the institution they select has a field of study related to their goal for employment.
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Apply for Vocational Rehabilitation Service
First Semester Junior Year
Schools
First Semester Junior Year
Schools
Vocational Rehabilitation is a state-funded organization that serves people with disabilities with the goal of finding meaningful employment or training. Vocational Rehabilitation provides services even after the student graduates from high school and can provide supports like transportation stipend
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Summer Work Experience
Summer in between Junior/Senior year
Varies
Summer in between Junior/Senior year
Varies
If students have not had a job before the summer of their senior year, Vocational Rehabilitation has created a program called the Summer Work Experience. Students will have a paid internship for twenty hours a week for six weeks over the summer. This includes 4 hours a week of employability skills.
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Take the ACT
Junior/Senior Year
Test Center
Junior/Senior Year
Test Center
Students planning to go to college should take the ACT in Junior and Senior year of high school. This is the test that is used for college entrance and is often a determining factor for admittance and scholarships.
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Financial Planning
Junior/Senior Year
Varies
Junior/Senior Year
Varies
Parents should discuss with their students about long term financial planning. If a student does not have a bank account or savings account they should open one before graduating high school. Students should also be aware of what credit means, the risks and benefits of loans...
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Internship/Work Experience/ Vocational Training
Junior/Senior Year
Varies
Junior/Senior Year
Varies
If there is space available in your schedule Junior or Senior year you should talk to your school about work experience, internship or vocational training opportunities. Many schools are building partnerships within the communities so that students can participate in authentic work experiences.
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Apply for Post-Secondary Institutions
First Semester Senior Year
School
First Semester Senior Year
School
Students should apply to College or Vocational School the first semester of their senior year. Students should apply to schools they are eligible for admission (GPA, test scores) and that meet their preferences. This is also a good opportunity for parents to talk about financial aid and how they wil
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Graduation
End of high school
School
End of high school
School
The first day of high school should be like the last day of high school. At graduation students should have experience with what they are planning to pursue and should have a clear understanding of what is expected of them for independent living.
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