Transition is change.  It is passage from one stage to another.  We each face many changes or transitions in life, but right now let’s specifically talk about transition from school to post-school services and whatever is next for your son or daughter with disabilities.

The change from high school to the adult world can be traumatic.  It is difficult when a child turns into a young adult and no longer receives school services.  Our youth are changing and the systems that support them are changing.   As parents and educators this transition must be anticipated and planned for.  If this transition – this change – is to be “seamless” – meaning  with no interruption in services – we need to help our sons and daughters decide where they want to go and what they want to do.

Some parents don’t think about what will happen after school until a few months before graduation, and then they realize that “the bus won’t be coming.”  If your child is on an IEP, then transition planning with you, your son or daughter, and the IEP Team should begin no later than the first IEP to be in effect when the student is 16, or younger if needed.  Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed to be within an outcome-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student with a disability to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary activities in post-secondary training or education, post-secondary employment and independent living skills, when appropriate.  Transition services also include courses of study designed to help the student reach his or her post-secondary goals.

When writing the IEP the IEP Team must:

  • Actively involve the student in his or her IEP development.
  • Base the IEP on the student’s needs, preferences, and interests.
  • Define the student’s desired post-secondary goals.
  • Review the student’s transition services such as courses of study or multi-year description of coursework, adjusting them as needed to achieve the student’s desired post-secondary goals.

The written plan must also specify how different agencies will work together to provided needed services.  The different public agencies can be invited to send a representative to the meeting.

Before you start the transition IEP,  it is important to understand where your son or daughter wants to be in the future.  Sometimes the nature of his or her disabilities makes it difficult or impossible for him or her to think through or talk about ideas and feelings.  The following suggestions may help in preparing him or her to participate more fully in developing a transition plan.

Begin by asking simple questions:

  • What subjects do you like in school?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What job would you like to do in a few years?  If the occupation is clearly beyond his or her abilities, find out the reasons why he or she is interested in a particular job.  Discuss other jobs related to his or her interests which might be a bitter fit for his or her strengths.
  • Does reaching your goal require further education or training?

For further information on transition planning see the UPC Handbook “From ‘No’ Where to ‘Know’ Where – Transition to Adult Life:

Also check out the Events Calendar for Transition Workshops at:

If you need individual information call the Utah Parent Center and talk to a Parent Consultant at 801-272-1051.