According to the U.S. census, over a half million autistic students will turn 18 over the next decade/ Further studies show that many students diagnosed with autism are not prepared for the transition. Some and their families are opting towards a college education. More colleges are offering support services to autistic students including social, academic, and life skills.
The following resources provide information and articles on autism and college preparation:
The transition from high school to whatever comes next can be stressful for students with special needs and their parents. Guiding them through this passage is a school transition coordinator or specialist. If you haven’t made contact with this individual at your teen’s school yet, don’t wait.
I had my first meeting with our high-school transition coordinator, Barbara Milewski, when my daughter was still in middle school. I wanted to find out what I should be worrying about and planning for. Not only did she reduce my anxiety, she also pointed me toward a county agency that gave my daughter a job that summer. As school meetings go, that one was unusually productive.
Since many parents don’t know such a resource exists, I asked Mrs. Milewski — who has decades of experience helping young people through this transition as a district guidance counselor, school social worker, case manager for special-education students, and transition coordinator — to share a little bit about what transition coordinators do and why you should seek yours out. Click here to read the rest of the story.
One of the goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is to include transition planning services for all special education students at age 16. Transition planning is mandated through IDEA 2004 which serves to help students begin the process of preparing for post-school activities including, postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment and adult services. A timeline will help you stay focused on achieving each step.
The law states transition planning should begin no later than 16 years old or before. It is recommended transition planning should begin by age 14 since services are different in the adult services world including long waiting list depending on where you live and what services are available.
14 Years Old
Transition planning should begin no later than when your child is 14.4- It is the law in most states.
Begin to research agencies who provide services for individuals with disabilities
IEP meeting should focus on the student’s needs, interest in preparation for adulthood
Research various aspects of transition services
Begin to explore recreation activities
15 Years Old
Develop a vision statement
Transition goals should be part of the IEP
Begin to discuss home services
Attend information fairs that offer information on future planning including residential, guardianship and employment
Start planning an independence plan at home where possible
16 Years Old
Transition goals at the IEP meetings should be updated.
Confirm how long students will attend high school- 4 years or until age 21
Start the process of getting referrals to your state agency
Begin researching adult services and programs. Some waitlist can last for years
Initiate application to adult service agencies
17 Years Old
Confirm a graduation date
Update transition goals in the IEP
Begin to invite adult service providers to IEP
Begin to investigate guardianship information and the process
18 Years Old
Adult eligibility should be completed
Apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid.
Visit adult providers programs
Attend job fairs if appropriate
Establish legal guardianship if necessary
Explore future planning
18-21 Years Old
Refine vision statement
Revise and update IEP goals
Invite transition coordinator your child’s IEP meeting
Explore and obtain necessary funding for adult programs
Ensure there is a plan for medical/health coverage
Confirm all support services are in place.
Below is a free transition printable planning checklist. Feel free to download the PDF.
I received an email from a high school student named Kathleen who is currently a part-time volunteer/intern with Educator Labs. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Kathleen put together resources on autism which you will find below in an effort to empower others with autism.