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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Transistion from High School

Transistion from High School

Related Tags: Special Education
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I teach high school and have a class of students with mild/moderate disabilities. Mainly Downs and higher functioning Autistic children. I am the "last stop" so to speak before my students leave the school setting. My children can stay until they are twenty -one, also the age that outside agencies will "pick them up". At age twenty-one most of my students attend sheltered workshops or stay at home with a parent, sibling, or other family member. With NCLB, my district has really been pushing transition planning for our students with special needs. As with any "new" idea there are some bugs to work out. At this time I am required to give my children two career assessments and interest inventories twice a year; at the beginning and prior to the annual IEP review. My school also has a job coach who will sometimes work with my kids and getting them out into the community. Her main priority, however, is to work with the Occupational Diploma kids. What suggestions or ideas does anyone have about better preparing my kids for the real-world as far as employment, independent living, etc.? I have a basic curriculum set up for my kids, however I am the only teacher with this level students in my school and meeting with other teachers like myself in the district has been very difficult at this point. I want to make sure that my students are as prepared as possible for life after high school.

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Jules's picture

Hi Mrs K -
I would say start getting them the skills that most of us take for granted in other students: being able to navigate their community is huge so that they don't end up being kept sheltered as adults. I recommend that you create curriculum where you get to take them out into the community during the day to do things like learn how to order food, or grocery shop, the laundry mat, etc. It will get you out of the classroom and give you a chance to do something different. Now, having done this there are probably a bunch of barriers already popping into your mind: transportation; funds; etc. Talk to your "job coach" and see if some of your funding can go to this because it is helping these kids get "Independent Living Skills" which is often part of the grant funding uses that can apply. Also, see if you can get the board, or Parents Association to help fund this.
For employment look into the Department of Rehabilitation for your state as well. Your students may (should) be eligible to become clients, and that process is easier if you help the ball start rolling now while they're still in school.
I hope this helps and keep me posted.
All the best
Julielle

Christina L. West's picture

There are a number of organizations with good information but the most effective and informative I have come across thus far is:

One of the best resources I've found:

http://www.ncset.org/publications/viewdesc.asp?id=208
The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance, and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create opportunities for youth to achieve successful futures. NCSET is headquartered at the Institute on Community Integration in the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development.

And

The OCALI Transition Task Force identified the need for a comprehensive product that provides guidance and resources for parents and professionals during the process of transition to adulthood for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The resulting document developed with their support, Transition to Adulthood Guidelines for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, aligns with the requirements of IDEIA 2004 and reflects best practices in transition planning for individuals with ASD. OCALI also provides free online modules helpful to professionals, parents and students.
http://www.ocali.org/view.php?nav_id=79

And

The Resource Center is the national service hub
http://www.nationalserviceresources.org/topics/service-activities

And

Lastly, as a parent of a young adult w/SLD & AS it is vital to not only provide to the student this information and services but just as important to extend the same to parents. After all, the likelihood of a parent(s), relative or friend caring for this young adult in all probability is high. This information and resources will provide those caretakers valuable tools to better serve and care for these students later in life. Think of it on the lines of teaching someone to cook rather than providing them a meal. This way if the student finds cooking difficult than the caretaker is provided other options or resources to enable said student.
If you haven't already considered it, develop a parent support group aside from your students, say maybe once a month. Have a teacher/professional come speak to parents about a subject, say English for example. Explain the different ways to learn grammar or writing, give resources, and provide examples. Explain why it is so important their child(ren) learn basic grammar and writing, how it relates to the child(ren)independence, and cover various examples such as resumes, job applications, filling out time cards, writing letters, signing up for community services, etc. Don't just provide examples; teach parents techniques so they too can provide same positive reinforcements at home. Believe me you what I learned 20 years ago is not the same today. It's a "aha" moment when I discover that "?" method is no longer being used and hasn't been since 1980 something. Either way, it's a win-win. The reduction of stress for all participants are greatly reduced, transition becomes more about the customary "rite of passage", more enjoyable and generally runs smoother, and surprisingly, parents are more inclined to not only be more cooperative but supportive of you and the school as a whole. FYI: There may be a grant or two (USDOE) that could provide additional funding.

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