One of the most important questions parents of children with disabilities must ask themselves as their child prepares to graduate from school is “Is my child as independent as possible?” This question is sure to evoke some emotion, confusion, and perhaps a little worry. However, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) seeks to ensure that students with disabilities receive services that are adequate to allow them “. . . to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible.” But what does that mean for the individual student? Does that include helping the student achieve their individual dreams and goals? And if so, how do we as parents and professionals ensure that our children are productive citizens in the community? Embedded in state and federal regulations are various rights and services to ensure that students with disabilities enter the post-secondary realm with the right tools to succeed –whether that means college, vocational school, employment, supported employment, a day habilitation center, or something else. How do we determine what tools and skills an individual child requires in order to achieve their individual goals and become independent adults? The first step is assessing the child. School districts are required to conduct vocational assessment for students with disabilities at the age of 12. The very purpose of a vocational assessment is to determine a child’s preferences, interests, weaknesses, and aptitudes to prepare for transition planning. From this assessment, school districts and parents can work collaboratively to develop an individual transition plan for the student and determine what services are necessary to meet the goals of this plan. This plan is required at the age of 15 (but it can be developed earlier if appropriate). The transition plan is essential to have a clear understanding of the parent and student’s specific long term goals for living, employment, and community involvement. This process is intended to be results-oriented and ongoing until the age of 21. For more information, you can contact our office at (646) 722-3829 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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