A Comprehensive Overview of Creating An Individualized Transition Plan

Parents find relief with a Therapeutic Consultant and Transition Specialist who helps with Transition Planning, a formal process in Special Education IDEA, or a GAP year plan including college alternatives. Includes both traditional students and those with a diagnosed disability.

What you can look forward to with this blog:

What Transition Planning Is
Who an Individualized Transition Plan Is For
The Benefits of Transition Planning
Reasons People Seek Support for Transition Planning

What is Transition Planning?

Transition Planning is a process designed to mature one to adulthood

The primary goal of an individualized transition plan, whether that is transition planning for students with special needs and IDEA or GAP year is to mature into an independent and productive adult, ever-increasing in personal responsibility, accomplishments, and contributions as one is able. Reaching adulthood is a monumental milestone full of new responsibilities, risks, and rights.

Pacer Center says “Transition Plans identify the key categories of life activities:

  • “Jobs and Job Training,”
  • “Post-Secondary Education & Training,”
  • “Community Participation,”
  • “Recreation and Leisure,” and
  • “Home Living.”

Creating an individualized transition plan gives your young person the opportunity to plan for their future and learn self-advocacy. Increased skills are often a focus on Transition Planning and may include but are not limited to:

  • nutritional education
  • computer skills
  • money management
  • time management
  • executive functioning
  • how to successfully live in the community
  • guidance for a job
  • practice with a coach, mentor or internship

Creating an Individualized Transition Plan is a process that is value-driven and person-centered

Regardless of the need and type of plan, person-centered planning is a critical value in Transition Planning and GAP Year. Read more about this core Transition Planning value from the TX-based organization Navigate Life, for families raising children with disabilities.

Transition Planning with a therapeutic consultant ensures that the experience is strength-based and individualized.

Who is an individualized transition plan for?

Transition Planning for students with special needs who are receiving services under IDEA

For students who have been receiving school-based services under IDEA, transition planning includes the period of time when crossing over from school-based services to the provisions of accommodations in accordance with ADA. Provisions under IDEA continue through age 22 in a local school district for some. While for others, the shift to ADA occurs simultaneously with high school graduation close to age 18. A local school district determines the timeline of eligibility for school-based services.

Special Education is generally seen as a timeline that may extend through age 22 for those with intellectual disabilities and an emotional or cognitive profile that impacts global functioning and may require extensive multi-disciplinary support across life domains.

  • extended services for those with the demonstrated impact of disability on life functioning
  • a gradual shift from IDEA to ADA
  • work on ADLs
  • ongoing academic and learning opportunity
  • vocational training

Each state publishes transition guidelines for students with disabilities who receive special education services under IDEA. Read here to see the Transition Planning checklist according to FL and FLDOE.

An Individualized Transition Plan is for any students wanting a GAP year or college alternative

For students without school-based services under IEDA and with a diagnosable issue or not, a well-planned modern GAP year college alternative can be just the thing to move your son or daughter forward with success. Time is your friend and it might be time to think out of the box for a bit. If college bound, well…college will still be there next year, and time to mature is your friend. Students in this category, often with ADHD, Asperger’s, Autism, Anxiety, unmotivated, unorganized, or overall immaturity, can create a semester or year-long transition plan, a supportive GAP Year, tailored to their personal growth needs and goals.

What does a Gap year look like?

A modern version of a gap year for Gen Z and Millenials is designed to slowly remove the safety net that parents provide leading up to adulthood. Modern gap year game plans are designed to target: but are not limited to:

  • soothe K-12 burnout, college isn’t going anywhere and you have time
  • build life experiences, grow in perspective
  • improve emotional maturity & emotional wellness
  • improve skills needed to succeed in adulthood
  • get clarity on life direction with career exploration, career counseling, and workplace internships
  • discover an alternative to college or after withdrawing from college
  • give back and contribute to the world in an area of passion or interest

Free Spirit Experience welcomes students from around the globe who are ready for a meaningful experience away from home.

“For young adults that want to participate in a gap year program, but need something that offers therapeutic support, a transitional living program offers gap year experiences for young adults who are concerned about launching into college or the workforce. Failure to launch isn’t always related to one’s level of motivation. It can occur for any number of reasons and be related to mental health struggles, lack of social support, or even events out of one’s control.”

Adam Ray, Transition Program Owner

Whether associated with IDEA and formal transition planning or creating an individualized transition plan with time to mature in a GAP year, young people focus on building skills in one or more key categories of life.

The Benefits of Transition Planning

Creating an individualized transition plan includes well-thought-out steps that lead somewhere

Transition planning makes dreams and wishes concrete and attainable.

“Aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it.”

When approaching majority age, it is normal to say, “I don’t need help.” The young adult is excited about their graduation from high school or a program and also is nervous about the next step. And, for some young adults, there is a new question. “Now what?” Students just turning 18 have limited life experiences to pull from, most are still developmentally young in a complicated and fast-paced world.

Having special needs or a disability is okay, not continuing to develop is not okay. Needing more time to grow up is okay, not having a plan to become independent is not okay. Not going to college is okay, not having a plan is not okay.

Parents and young adults can ensure growth, progress and success, and head off failure by incorporating proven elements in order to reap the benefits.

Key Elements to the Transition Planning and the IEP

  • Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment (AATA)
  • Student Vision
  • Post-Secondary Goals
  • Course of study
  • Transition services
  • Agencies and providers
  • Annual goals

Read more here from a noteworthy Ohio-based organization dedicated to inspiring change and promoting access.

Transition Planning helps parents too

Parents transition also. Transitioning along with a child turning 18 is a time of letting go, a time of shifting the parent-child relationship to parenting an adult. But what if the newly turned adult isn’t able to make it in independence?

While much of the talk about Transition Planning focuses on the student, there are important considerations for parents as well.

When your child reaches majority age, parenting changes. Parents tell me they are very aware of their own aging and are intent on working to ensure their son or daughter can reach potential, contribute something of value, and not be a burden on society. Others tell me how concerned they are to provide long term care, achieve guardianship or conservatorship, secure SSI, establish a Special Needs trust, set up an ABLE account, and more.

One expert source, Pacer Center located in MN, comments, “Parents will need to start thinking about their child’s legal status before they turn 18. If a youth is not able to make informed decisions about major issues (medical treatment, living accommodations, financial arrangements, etc.), the family may need to learn more about guardianship or conservatorship.”

To sum it up, while an Individualized Transition Plan is inherently about the young person transitioning to adulthood and independence as they are able, parents have their own planning.

Image of a woman working on a laptop trying to create an individualized transition plan. Showing the importance of getting help while transition planning in Maryland, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, & Florida.

Reasons People Seek Support to create an Individualized Transition Plan

An individualized transition plan protects those at risk and supports potential

As one of my favorite clients always says, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” A plan helps mitigate risk. An individualized transition plan is a plan to move steadily toward potential.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandated that transition services are provided to those receiving school-based services. Transition Planning and services help students transition from high school to college and adulthood in order to reach the highest level of independence and potential possible for that individual. Depending on the state and beginning around age 14, goals are discussed and implementation of goals begins at age 16 if not earlier.

Remember: Goals differ widely and are dependent on the student’s abilities.

Disability Rights Florida identifies four types of Transition Plans.

  • IEP (Individualized Education Plan)
  • 504 (for a person with a disability who does not need special education services)
  • TIEP (a results-oriented Transition Individual Education Plan)
  • IPE (Individualized Plan for Employment)

An individualized transition plan brings clarity and creates a clear path forward

Everyone wants to know about a transition planning timeline. Parents and their emerging young adults want to know how to create a transition plan and what to do during a gap year.

  • Gain clarity on the purpose of Transition Planning
  • Learn about the process
  • Learn about when transition planning should start
  • Assess strengths and abilities and level of independence
  • Develop a thorough understanding of the need
  • Identify and prioritize skills to focus on
  • Create a timeline
  • Learn about what is a good fit
  • Decide what to do

Parents Can Ask: “What am I looking for? For my son or daughter who is in need of time to regroup, refresh, mature in some way, or learn adulting-type skills what will best assist them?”

  • What does our emerging young adult need and want?
  • In transition planning what are we targeting?
  • What do we want and what are we willing to fund as parents or what will our district fund?

Your list might include concerns such as:

Some support that parents can consider:

  • Local support for disability or voc reahab
  • Residential community to support disability and growth
  • Short-term assessment to get to the core and root of issues
  • Help with trauma through EMDR, Brainspotting, Somatic Experiencing, ART, and more
  • A therapeutic transition program that offers the right support and counseling for young adults
  • College planning and transition for Asperger’s and Autism
  • A therapeutic gap year to overcome some emotional issues or behaviors

See this link by the Colorado Department of Education for a summary of the What, Why, and How of Transition Planning.

Are You Ready to Start Creating an Individualized transition plan?

In closing, it’s fair to say that during the transition, everyone will feel uncomfortable at times; however, creating an individualized transition plan ensures everyone has access to best practices and feels heard and supported throughout the process.

“A supportive community of others faced with similar challenges helps young adults feel less alone and more confident that they can achieve the goals they set for themselves. “ Adam Ray

Are you ready to get started on transition planning for a student with special needs that could use extended services? Looking for a GAP year advisor so your young adult can grow in one or more key areas needed for adulthood and independence? Need life coaching and therapeutic support designed with an 18+ young adult in mind?

What other questions come up for you when you think of supporting your emerging young adult? It’s normal for parents to have concerns and fears at this stage of development. Reach out to Morgan Guidance Services if you have additional questions on how we collaborate with you to create an individualized transition plan for your son or daughter.

Image of a young adult meeting with a therapeutic consultant for transition planning. Have you been wondering what is transition planning? We can help you create an individualized transition plan in Florida, Maryland, Texas, or Connecticut.

Start Transition Planning in Florida, Texas, Connecticut, Maryland, or anywhere in the US

If you are already working on transition planning, have a young adult who will need extra support, who needs time to mature, or who has Asperger’s or Autism, Morgan Guidance Services can help. Our therapeutic consultant and transition specialist can guide you as you create an individualized transition plan so you can make good use of the year and accomplish your goals. We are passionate about helping young adults not get stuck and to continue to develop so they can reach their potential in life.

  1. Reach out with questions or schedule a complimentary consultation
  2. Learn about transition programs options that are a fit for your loved one
  3. Get a feel for what it is like to work with us.

Other Consulting Services Offered in FL, TX, CT, MD & Throughout the US

At Morgan Guidance Services our therapeutic consultants offer more than transition planning for adolescents and young adults. We offer support in finding the right choice for therapeutic boarding school and program placement. Additionally, we offer career counseling for adults who are feeling stuck or need help deciding their next steps in life.

About the Author, An Educational & Therapeutic Consultant in Florida

Elaine Morgan is the founder, owner, and lead consultant at Morgan Guidance, a special education consulting firm providing Career and Educational Counseling. She has been working with struggling students and their parents for 40 years. Elaine is known for her work with typical and neuro-diverse students and adults who are lagging behind their same-age peers and at risk of not reaching their potential due to emotional behavioral health and developmental challenges especially Asperger’s and ASD.



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