Transition as referenced in the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a coordinated set of activities designed for a student with a disability to promote and support the student’s movement from school to post-school activities such as post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment, adult services, independent living, and community participation.

The activities are based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account his or her strengths, preferences and interests. The activities may include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment skills, adult living objectives and, when appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills and a functional vocational evaluation.

Transition toward adulthood really begins when children are born; everything they do and learn is designed to make them a competent and independent adult. The focus becomes really strong as students enter middle school. In Iowa we begin involving students in their IEP meetings by age 14. Students must learn to advocate and be able to ask for the supports they need both in school and on the job site. Transition refers to all the activities that make that happen. Your child’s IEP team will begin advising you and your child about the many steps that happen along the way, from selecting courses to sampling jobs and even being at a job site.

IDEA is specific about the need for transition activities to support students as they transition from school-based to post-school activities. However, there are other natural transitions that all students including students with special needs experience as well, from early childhood to elementary, from elementary to middle, and middle to high. For support with these types or levels of transition, please contact your child’s special education teacher or building administrator,

Other sites with helpful post-school transition information include: