Special Needs Transition Series (Age 16-17)
By ages 16 to 17, transition will include out of school job readiness in the community. We will take an interest inventory of the students at the beginning of the year and another at the end of the year. They will begin to develop a resume. Job skills training will begin.
Travel safety training becomes important now that our students are out and about. Information that is necessary for SSI, Medicaid, and/or Medicaid benefits can be evaluated but only under special circumstances. It is highly recommended that you find out further your own state’s laws and requirements for a minor to acquire these types of benefits as they can range from state to state. The Guardianship and Special Needs Trust process could be looked into 4-6 months prior to their 18th birthday. Plenty more life skills will be taught but first, let's check in with the family's role at this stage.
The Family's Role
This is an excellent time to create opportunities that test your child's independence in a safe environment. You can explore public transportation together or use a community resource to learn about the transportation system in your area. Encourage your child to find and connect with an adult mentor/role model with a similar disability. Most importantly, don't do what comes naturally and forget about yourself. Seek out or create family discussions, support groups, counseling or any safe place to talk about experiences with the disability.
The School's Role
By now, we should be incorporating transition goals into IEPs and update them as often as necessary. Students can attend their own meetings begin to work on self-advocacy skills. Goals should be individualized to their interests. A decision should be made between pursuing a transition program with vocational training or graduating and moving on to higher education.
Career Exploration and Planning
Students are ready to begin job shadowing. They will be practicing completing job applications. From there, they can develop a resume or video resume. If they are not involved in a full day Summer program, consider having them pursue a part-time summer job if applicable. Another often overlooked option is volunteering. This can also help them focused on their interests and strengths while learning about career opportunities. What should be part of the transition plan is students are encouraged to start thinking about and researching possible career interests. It is never too early to begin volunteering and take advantage of career fairs and job shadowing opportunities.
Continued Health Care Planning
Maintaining constant attention when it comes to our young people's health needs and health coverage will continue. A plan should be established for adult medical services and referrals should be obtained. Check your list of contacts for doctors, therapists, equipment vendors, etc., and update it. Obtain a Letter of Medical Necessity for use with insurance, therapies, Social Security Administration, and other state and federal systems of healthcare support. Let your son or daughter try their hand at scheduling medical appoints on their own. If successful, have them refill their own prescriptions while you are guiding them on using a pharmacy automated refill system. If they are verbal, have them become more verbally engaged with their healthcare providers to be able to discuss and describe their symptoms, feelings and concerns and desires.
Continued Life Skills Training
Let's get back to those life skills. Punctuality, in terms of appointments, work, and activities, is a must. Students will begin to carry a state ID card as well as a copy of their health insurance card. We will also be working on their ability to schedule their own appointments.
It may seem early, but it is not unreasonable to start thinking about future living arrangements. If applicable, students may carry cell phones. When they attend meetings and appointments, we expect self-advocacy. Teens are taught how to handle emergency vs. non-emergency medical situations. Any events or activities that foster independence are a good idea at this point in their lives. Soon, they will turn 18 and become legal adults, changing the game once again.
“While the transition articles series strives to cover a range of important milestone markers that parents need to be concerned with as their child progresses through the various age groups, their own individual challenges may dictate what are the best options and resources that have proven best over time. Please be sure to fully discuss “all” of the recommendations outlined here with your support team”.
Request a Tour of The Gateway School
Since 1980, RKS Associates has been a leader in providing the needs of special education students and helping children grow to their fullest potential. Each of our schools seeks to empower each student with skills for life, work, and recreation; we believe that every individual possesses the dignity and potential to contribute to a better world.
As part of the RKS Associates Network of schools in New Jersey, the goal at the Gateway School is to assist all students in becoming as independent as possible and help them get ready for the future. Located in Carteret, NJ, we serve individuals throughout Central and Northern New Jersey. Contact us at our main office at 732.541.4400 with any questions or schedule a private tour of the Gateway School today.
Chris Hoye, Principal-The Gateway School of Carteret, NJ