Transition Services for Children With Disabilities

By — National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities
Updated on Feb 17, 2011

NICHCY is pleased to connect you with resources on transition services for youth with disabilities.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transition planning from school to adult life begins, at the latest, during high school. In fact, transition planning is required, by law, to start once a student reaches 16 years of age, or younger, if appropriate. This transition planning becomes formalized as part of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a written document listing, among other things, the special educational services that the child will receive. The IEP is developed by a team that includes the child's parents and school staff.

Transition services are intended to prepare students to make the transition from the world of school to the world of adulthood. In planning what type of transition services a student needs to prepare for adulthood, the IEP team considers areas such as postsecondary education or vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation.

The transition services themselves are a coordinated set of activities that are based on the student's needs and that take into account his or her preferences and interests. The resources we've listed below will help you learn more about transition ---what the law requires, what information a typical transition plan contains, how transition plans are developed, and so on. Because transition is such an enormous topic, we have organized the information as a "suite" of pages that break the topic down into some of its distinct aspects. More pages may be added to the suite in the future. At the moment, the Transition Suite consists of:

None of these pages provides an exhaustive list of the resources available on this very important subject. Each is intended as a beginning list, to get you started in your search for information and connection.

Students in the Viewfinder

Why is transition planning so important? The law requires that transition planning begin for students with disabilities no later than age 16---why? And who are we talking about when we say "students in transition"? If you really turn the lens on this population of students, what picture will you see? The resources in this section are intended to connect you with the broad picture of "why?" and "for whom?"

  • Why sit up and take notice?
    This brief by the Arc does more than tell you why transition planning is so important for youth with disabilities. It also provides an overview of the process and the roles that parents, students, and school professionals play in that process.
  • Taking a 10-year national picture.
    The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) involves a nationally representative sample of almost 12,000 students who were 13 to 16 years old and received special education in December 2000. The study will follow them until 2010 in an effort to understand their educational, vocational, social, and personal experiences as they transition from adolescence to early adulthood. The information gleaned will help build a foundation for serving them well. The brief at the link above reports on the demographic characteristics of NLTS2 participants and, thus, a portrait of youth with disabilities in transition.
  • What's typical: What else is NTLS2 finding?
    The series of NTLS2 data briefs at the link above provides much more information about the nature and experiences of our youth with disabilities in transition. Do any of these titles appeal to you?
    The Characteristics, Experiences, and Outcomes of Youth with Emotional Disturbances

    Family Expectations and Involvement for Youth with Disabilities

    Social Activities of Youth with Disabilities

    Youth Employment
  • Graduation requirements and diploma options for students with disabilities.
    While we're profiling our nation's youth with disabilities as they verge on adulthood, why not take a look at the options they have for finishing high school. This paper from the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) examines the results of a national study on the current status of state graduation policies and diploma options for youth with disabilities. A shorter, less technical reporting of results can be found at:
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