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
- Middle SchoolVariesMiddle SchoolVariesParents 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
- End of high schoolSchool
- Elementary and Middle SchoolVariesElementary and Middle SchoolVariesStudents 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
- Before Age 3Missouri
- No later than Age 16SchoolNo later than Age 16SchoolYour 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).
- High SchoolEverywhere
- Summer in between Junior/Senior yearVariesSummer in between Junior/Senior yearVariesIf 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.
- 10th-12th gradeVaries
- Elementary SchoolVariesElementary SchoolVariesIf 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/ ...
- First Semester Senior YearSchoolFirst Semester Senior YearSchoolStudents 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
- Junior/Senior YearVariesJunior/Senior YearVariesIf 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.
- Age 11-14VariesAge 11-14VariesStudents 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.
- Elementary SchoolSchoolElementary SchoolSchoolIt 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.
- High School (9th-11th)SchoolHigh School (9th-11th)SchoolStudents 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
- Junior/Senior YearVariesJunior/Senior YearVariesParents 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...
- Elementary SchoolVariesElementary SchoolVariesKeeping 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 ...
- Early ChildhoodVaries
- Elementary SchoolEverywhereElementary SchoolEverywhereIt 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 ...
- First Semester Junior YearSchoolsFirst Semester Junior YearSchoolsVocational 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