Parents strive to give their children the best educational opportunities possible through high school graduation and beyond. For parents who have special needs children, the work is harder and more intense. Finally the goal is close and suddenly parents and student may not have adequately planned for life after school and an IEP.
What happens next? How will the young adult cope with less close support and assistance? Is further school a viable option? How does the person get the help they need? These are only a few of the questions most families with a special needs child must consider.
Transition help is available. Most schools have help through their guidance department but the quality can vary from school to school. Many states also have counselors or websites but negotiating them and maintaining consistency can be difficult and a convoluted process.
One website that may be helpful is Life After IEP’s. The site addresses many questions and topic for families of students with special needs. It is a good basic information site that clearly states information in easy to understand language.
One of the great links on the site is the Free Transitions Tools page. Currently, ten topics are addressed which link to separate pages. Topics are the Whole Person, Education, Employment, Self-Determination, Health, Financial/Legal, Growing Personal Networks, Housing, Personal Assistance Services, and Relationships/Recreation. There is also a link for questions and comments.
Some of these links address both parent tools and student centered activities to encourage self-esteem and life ownership. Others address questions and needs for further education choices and how to find information about them. Others address adult social and relationship issues for disabled young adults. All guide toward the goal of life independence with dignity and confidence.
Check out the site. There is a link to sign up for a weekly newsletter, too.
While it is never too early to think about life long services for an individual with a disability, the change from school to adult independence doesn't have to be overly stressful. With adequate planning based on solid research, life after IEP’s can move forward smoothly.
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