Living With Autism: Life After High School
One of the most challenging times for individuals with autism and their families is when they must transition from the security of federally-mandated services through the public school to the uncertainty of adult services. Questions about post-secondary education, vocational training and employment must be addressed. While entitlement to public education ends at 18, the IDEA requires that transition planning begin at 16, becoming a formal part of the student's IEP. Transition planning should involve the student, parents and members of the IEP team who work together to help the individual make decisions about his/her path.
The school system can be the basis for your transition planning. A student receiving special education services in public schools has regular meetings with family and school staff to address the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). Once a student is in high school, these meetings should begin to plan for the transition from high school to adult life. The federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), requires that transition plans be included in a student's IEP by the time he or she is 16. IDEA defines transition services as a coordinated set of activities for a student that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including:
- post-secondary education
- vocational training
- integrated employment (including supported employment)
- continuing and adult education
- adult services
- independent living, and
- community participation.
The coordinated set of activities must be based on the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests; and include needed activities in the areas of:
- community experiences
- the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and
- acquisition of daily living skills and function vocational evaluation.
Some states require transition planning to begin at an age younger than 16. Check with your state department of education to confirm the age your state requires transition planning and services to begin. It is important that families and schools start planning early to ease the transition for the person with autism and increase success and independence in adult life.
Reprinted with the permission of the Autism Society.
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