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By Kristin Stanberry
At the high school level, transition services for students who have LD and an IEP are available through their special education programs and general education programs. Special education staff provides assistance with counseling, identifying vocational interests, educational and vocational planning, goal setting, pre-vocational skills training, academic support, and linkages to specific programs and services.
Other transition-related services that are available to all high school students include guidance counseling, career center services, work experience education, academy programs, and career education vocational courses. Check with your child's special education teacher and/or your school district's office of student personnel services to see which specific programs are offered.
All transition planning meetings should include the student, family members, teachers, and other school staff. According to IDEA, anyone else involved in the student's transition plan must also be invited. This might include representatives from school-to-work transition programs, local social service agencies, counseling programs, medical care providers, and advocates.
Parents are key players in the transition planning process. You know your child better than anyone else and can share plans and ideas you and your child have discussed concerning his future. You can help by contributing information about your child's life and experiences outside of school. It's important to include your teenager in these discussions and encourage him to advocate for his own needs and wishes.
A student needs to begin thinking about what he wants to do as an adult before his first transition planning meeting takes place. This is his chance to take an active role in planning his education and make school relevant to his future. This is the time for the student to propose dreams and set goals for reaching them. It is an avenue to prove what he can accomplish, to identify things he enjoys and feels competent doing, and to set himself on a path of his choosing. At the same time, he should be realistic about how he'll need to accommodate for his learning difficulties while pursuing his education and vocation. In general, the transition plan can emphasize a student's abilities rather than his areas of difficulty.
Some steps a high school student can take to prepare for the transiton planning process include:
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