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What do I do about Transition Planning during COVID?

“Johnny is over 14 and I know we should be working on Transition Planning (TP), but COVID-19 has messed everything up. What can we do?”

TP is a process. If your child is on an IEP, under Massachusetts law, the process begins when your child turns 14 and continues until your child graduates or turns 22. COVID-19 doesn’t prevent TP from occurring, your Team just has to be creative!

If you are new to the process, it begins with the school conducting a Transition Assessment. The Team then meets to complete the state Transition Planning Form (TPF), which includes a Post-Secondary Vision Statement, Disability Related Needs (the skills necessary to reach the goals in the Vision Statement), and an Action Plan. Just like an IEP, this should be “individualized” for your child. Your child is not only a member allowed to attend these meetings, but is an important member who should actively participate in these meetings. Your child can attend the meeting for as long or as little as he/she/they would like.

Actively engaging and participating in the IEP process makes a student feel more invested in achieving goals. Transition goals that are incorporated into the IEP often include self-advocacy, problem-solving, and self-determination. What better time to begin practicing these goals than at an IEP Team meeting. This helps to build confidence. Confidence that begins in high school will carry over into post secondary education, future employment, and independent living.

As a parent, if you feel the District is not empowering your child during these meetings, then consider advocating for him/her/them using non-adversarial language that lets him/her/them know you support him/her/them and also lets the District know you are aware of your right under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to meaningful participation. “Isn’t it wonderful that Johnny is taking an active role in this meeting, I’m so proud of him! I think we should listen to what else he has to say. He’s using the skills you’ve been working on. He may have some more ideas on how we can get him closer to his post-secondary goals.”

Johnny has a disability (ASD) and wants to work for a tech company and live independently. Where do you start? You start at the beginning with small goals. What do you need to do to work for a tech company? You need computer skills. Where do you get computer skills? You go to College degree or an IT Program. How do you get into college or technical program? You need to be eligible for a program and may need accommodations. What type of college would be the right fit … a community college that may offer more experiences or a college that offers specific programs for students with disabilities? What type of High School courses would be helpful to prepare? What outside experience can be acquired while in High School? What does your child need in order to graduate from High School?

Your child may want a mentor while in high school who can show what a computer programmer does at a tech company. Maybe there are other jobs at a tech company that Johnny would prefer. Maybe you find companies who have alternative interviewing styles that don't require face-to-face eye contact, and instead allow an applicant to “try out” for the job hands on for a week and see if there’s a good fit. How will Johnny get to work? Have you started thinking about getting Johnny a driver’s license? What will that involve?

Johnny’s vision may be “I want to work at Microsoft and live in an apartment nearby.” Rather than focus on that end game now, start at the beginning with “How do we build into Johnny’s IEP the skills he will need in order to work toward the goal of working in the technical field and living independently.”

Many job skill training programs can be done on-line. Many resources and webinars are available for free online. Many mentors can be accessed on-line and can be accessed globally. Jobs are available in-person and schools can assist you in finding those jobs if your student is interested. Post-secondary schools are conducting virtual tours and interviews. COVID-19 has changed TP, but it doesn’t have to prevent TP.

An IEP includes accommodations, services, and skill-building to help reach goals, including Transition goals. Each year, you and Johnny should be meeting with the Team and updating the Plan to get closer to Johnny’s post-secondary goals. If you don’t feel your child is getting TP and your child is on an IEP and over 14, feel free to contact me.


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