The Individualized Transition Plan
According to Gerard Thiers, executive director of ASAH in the article Fingles, Herbert, Dorothy (2002), the question that should bother high school students is: “What will happen after graduation?” Not everyone is ready to answer this question though. In order to prepare school graduates for adult life transition planning has been developed. According to federal law it is supposed to be implemented in life of students with disabilities, so they can have an opportunity to get a free education and get prepared for adult life.
What is it?
To support children with disabilities The Individuals with disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was edited. The goal of this act is to ensure that children with disabilities get a special education and some extra services that will help them to overcome difficulties on the transition to adult life. It is implemented with Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), which is designed individually for every student.
Why is it important?
According to A Self-Advocacy Fact Sheet from the Minnesota Disability Law Center (p.1) it must figure out what is the best for a student, what his/her needs and wants are. It’s important to take into account what courses student takes, what his/her interests are, what he/she wants to do in future. To find out what student’s needs and wants are he/she must be evaluated. It is made upon his/her work, leisure, home living, community participation, opportunities to learn new things after high school. Next step is to set annual goals for every student with disabilities and ways of their achievements. All these goals for post graduation time must be set until the student reaches 14. On these bases the plan of achievement students’ goals must be developed. This is so-called Transition Planning. It is important because it makes the lives of children with disabilities easier. It must help them to become more independent (Individual Transition Planning Guide, p. 33). IEP is a part of transition. According to Planning the Transition from School to adult life, it includes:
- The statement of needed transition services.
- The statement of transition services needs.
- Community based instruction.
The first part includes instruction, supportive services, community experiences, and adult activities like employment, everyday activities, and vocational evaluation. It is performed when student achieves 16. Second part is support that helps students to implement annual goals, which must be updated every year and short term objectives. Third part is very impor- tant because it tells students how to adjust to everyday life. To check if transition plan works, every 6 months a student must check if set goals are achieved.
The Individualized Transition Plan must include next (deFur, 1999):
- Postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment, continuing educa- tion, adult services, independent living, or community participation of the student
- It must be based on the individual student's needs and interests
- Post school living objectives, like services, community experiences, employment deve- lopment, acquiring daily skills
- Assessing student interests, needs or preferences about future education, employment, living as an adult and setting goals to implement in these spheres
- Instructing the student in the areas to achieve transition goals
- Assisting with accommodations, supports, or other services the student needs
- Coordinating with adult services organizations
- Providing student with support when he/she develops independence, graduates IDEA, or attend the IEP meeting
- Student, family, special/regular education teacher, local educational agency representative or other support team member that will serve student’s needs best.
To follow the plan of transition a student has a support team, like family members, psycho- logist, case manager, teachers, transition specialists, est. It is important that family members participate in IEP meetings. On the one hand it’s a support, on the other one they might play a key role in helping their kids to go through transition. Family members can make children feel comfortable, may assist them with accomplishment of their tasks, achieving set goals. They also can help them to overcome communication barrier with other members of the team. But not only family member may assist students with disabilities. Special educational teachers play essential role. They may figure out student’s strengths, needs, and interests. They may help to find information for transition plan (Transition planning, 2002). Teachers-advisors help to prepare annual plans, help to communicate. Guidance teachers can provide informa- tion about student’s career development information. In some cases they can even take res-ponsibility for transaction plan implementation. There are also educational assistants who take part in assistance. For exceptional students access to cooperative education may be opened. It’s a great chance that makes education and work experience programs available without any barriers. Psychologists take part in IEP process too (Transition planning, 2002). They help in defining goals and taking actions according to the needs and want of the student. They co- operate with school personnel which gives access the whole school system. Whatever person a student requires to be around while overcoming difficulties he/she must be present. Support team must he included in 3 phases: development, implementation and evaluation.
Students with disabilities should participate in transition planning and must be ensured that all steps are undertaken for their own good. When the student leaves school, he/she can get ac- cess to Rehabilitation services for people with mental/physical disabilities and State Services for Blind (SSB). There are also agencies, such as DDD and DVRS (Planning the transition from school to adult life, p.10) that can even pay for their education or help to find a job. By the age of 18 a student has rights to make his/her own decisions unless his/her parents have got guardianship. Students with disabilities have the same rights to attend college as other stu- dents and have rights to keep their disabilities in secret.
In conclusion I’d like to say that ITP has a great impact on the lives of students with disabi-lities. They get a great support team that helps them in different spheres of their lives, which makes their transition from childhood to adult life easier. ITP helps them to set annual goals, check its implementation in life. It’s important that there are so many agencies and organiza-tions that understand how difficult it can be for children with disabilities to adjust to normal life. It’s a great work and responsibility and I’m a happy to be a part of such caring society.
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