What are they?
Transition Assessments are most commonly performed when a child has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or a 504 plan. By Federal law the transition age begins at 16 years old but in the state of Massachusetts it begins at 14 years old. When students reach the age of 14, they are given the Transition Planning Form (TPF). The student and his or her team then focus on establishing transition goals to assist in preparing for life after high school. The TPF is used to assess the student’s ability to determine his or her strengths and weaknesses, how they interact with others in school or in their community, their decision-making process on personal or work tasks, their career interests, and independent living skills. Transition assessments are tailored to meet the student’s level of comprehension and are age specific.
Why are they beneficial?
It is incredibly important for individuals with disabilities to feel independent and be seen as an equal in their working environment and in their community.
Parents need to remember that the support their child receives in school will change in post-secondary education and in employment. It is important that your child becomes an active participant in his or her IEP team.
As your child matures some skills that are important have in mind and nurture are the following:
Self-advocacy and self-determination. These are two important skills that should be instilled early on in a child’s life. Research performed by the National Center on Secondary Education Transition (NCSET) (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997) followed youths with developmental delays or learning disabilities one year after graduating from high school. “The study showed a ‘consistent trend characterized by self-determined youth doing better than their peers one year out of school. Members of the high self-determination group were more likely to have expressed a preference to live outside the family home, have savings or checking account and be employed for pay” (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997, p.253).
Communication skills. Outside the family unit, how does your child reach out to community, employment, volunteering, or post-secondary education?
Social skills. Friends, classmates, extended family, community, employment.
Perception and awareness of stamina. What tools do you need to be successful in your personal life, school, or work?
Executive function skills. Decision making, time management, planning, task initiation, etc. In college or employment your child will not have the support or reminders to carry out these skills. What tools does your child need to do tasks independently?
Transportation skills. Navigating public transportation or mode of transportation, when in the community or post-secondary education.
Independent living skills. Shopping, understanding a paycheck, paying bills, paying rent, how to use an ATM, etc.
A transition assessment done by an objective evaluator can be used to help determine your child’s baseline and assist the IEP team in identifying and developing transition goals he or she might need to learn and develop while they are still in school. A transition assessment is a roadmap for your child’s life journey.
Written by Lizzette Grattan, Transition and Vocational Evaluator, Transition and Employment Services Department, Easterseals Massachusetts