We hear school talk a lot about Transition
Transition is getting yourself ready to do a lot of things after you finish High school. A lot of people finish high school when they are 22 years old.
A good Transition is:
When school, your parents, and yourself work together to help you get ready.
You can have a good job that pays you money.
You can take a bus by yourself, be safe on the street. You can have your own place to stay. You can live with a friend. You can travel. You can do a lot of things you like— going to the movies and more. You can go to college to learn more stuff if you want to.
When a student is 14 years old, the school and the teachers work with the student to help him ready to do all these beautiful things after high school. The teachers can go out with you to teach you how to cross the street and be safe. We call it travel training. The teacher can go to your job with you to show you how to do a good job. We call it job training. Sometimes you have to try different jobs to see what you like more.
You can work with your teachers and your parents to learn about money and save money. Tell us what you like and want, and what you want to do when you finish high school. You can learn how to ask for what you want. You can ask for what you need because you are an advocate. You are a good advocate because you can speak for yourself. Sometimes, everybody needs help. You can learn how to help others, how to volunteer, like helping your school, helping your church.
You learn how to take care of yourself. Stay clean. Dress well for the weather. Learn about girl friend and boy friend. How to protect your body. Learn if someone hurts your body, learn to tell your teacher and your parents. You can learn more about eating well and exercise. Tell your parents and your teachers what you like to do when you finish High school. Everyone can help you get ready for Transition.
It is a very nice time because you are now a beautiful young man or a beautiful young woman who worked hard to learn how be independent.
This is all part of Transition.
Find transition resources:
I can remember when I was about to finish high school. It was an exciting and scary time. Many people asked, “What will you do next?” Ask this question to someone with a range of challenges, and I bet you get the same answers. Answers like going to college, getting a job, or getting into a trade, to name a few. The planning that goes into making these answers happen can be much different though. Many factors play into the success of the person. Factors such as support services needed, access, funding, advocacy, etc.
What is Transition Planning?
The above planning process is known as “Transition”. It is planning and development of a person’s future. During the time of transition, we predict what kind of support the person will need. We think about where the person will live. We look into what kind of job the person could have. What services are out there to address the person’s needs? What supports does the person qualify for, and is there funding? I can tell you in many cases the supports decrease as the person moves to adult services. This makes it even more difficult to plan for a quality life. In my job, I hear from families often that feel they were not prepared. They did not know enough about their options to be able to help make the best transition decisions for their loved one. I get a lot of “why wasn’t I told about this support option?” “That’s not how that service was explained to me.” “I wish I knew about this sooner.”
What are the gaps?
At age 22 or at time of graduation, a school is no longer responsible for a student. The student is now an “adult”. During the time leading up to “adulthood,” the school system plays a big role in getting the student ready for life after school. How do you know what to prepare the student for without knowing what life will look like after school? Will he/she go to college? Live in a group home or in the community? Will he/she go right to work? What are the support options in adult services? Will people qualify for the type of supports needed to achieve their goals? The transition process does address these questions. Still, “usual” support service models are not a one size fits all. Sadly, trying to be creative in your planning is not always possible for many reasons.
One other major gap is the relationship between the school system and the adult service system. Those working with families to explore adult service options may not be well-enough informed. Let us also not forget all the services that may go away for the student in “adulthood”. Where is the link between children and adult services? When finally meeting transition coordinators, they are also working with too many other families. Through no fault of their own, they have extremely high caseloads. Therefore, the amount of time spent on planning your child’s adult life is hardly enough. It is as if you are given a menu of services and you’re told to pick one. Well, what if none of these menu items meet my child’s vision? Without a doubt, a stronger team approach is crucial.
What are some tips to plan for transition? In my opinion, it’s key to start early. Reach out to Family Support Centers. Look into provider agencies. Ask questions about the services they offer. Visit them in person. Learn about the “Self Directed Service” option. Know what “Self Determination” means. Do not take “No” for an answer. For more information, check out the resources listed below.