Monday, April 30, 2012

Transition services

Transition services are an area for concern to parents and students alike. Leaving the known high school system for the unknown of the college setting is often a scary and transition for students regardless of whether or not they have a disability. The challenge has an added dimension for students with disabilities.

How are services different?

Students with IEPs in K-12 schooling
College students with disabilities
·    ADA:
·    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act:
·    ADA (1990):
·    Amendments to ADA (2008)
Student works with the students with disabilities office and  receives an Accommodation Letter to share with instructors
What is required?
·    federal and state mandates
·    child find- screen and identify students with disability within the district
·    Standardized assessments at initial identification and at least every three years thereafter
·    Documentation of a disability
·    Creation, assessment and at least annual review  of IEP
·    Delivery of services
·    Eligibility for any and all is based on student identification and his/her providing documentation  of a disability
·     dependant on the institution’s guidelines
·    level the playing field
·    notification of service availability
·    approval and grievance processes
Who delivers services?
·    Special education teachers, certified therapists, counselors, psychologists
·    Special education teachers inform instructors of student’s needs
·    Often students
·    Student is responsible for informing instructors of disabilities and accommodations
Largely the same within a state
Institution dependant
Mandates and limitations
·    Find and identify students with disabilities
·    Educate in the most inclusive setting possible
·    Provide specialized instruction
·    All students must receive an education
·    Communication with home must be in the native language
·    Level the playing field
·    All students who meet entrance criteria and maintain their GPA
·    No personal services such as tutoring by an expert, 1:1 aide, laptops, or wheelchairs
·    Technology- such as speech to text software may be made available BUT not 24/7, in unlimited numbers of seats, in whatever environment the student wants or in the software package the student is used to
·    May modify texts after a student has purchased it; may result in a text that cannot subsequently be resold
·    Sign language interpreters for classes and school events, if requested in a timely manner; NOT for socialization
Test modifications
·    Determined in the IEP
·    Must be delivered unless the student refuses
·    Must be approved, often every semester
·    May need prior arrangements up to 3 weeks before each test
·    Student must request
·    Parents/family/guardian are required to be asked to be involved
·    Self advocate or nothing
·    Parents cannot be involved without written student permission. Grades will go to student not parents. Behavioral concerns will be addressed with student NOT parents.
Assignments and test
May be modified as determined by the IEP
All students complete all tests and assignments
Graduation requirements
May be waived due to disability: ex foreign language
Rarely waived; occasionally substitution classes are offered

This list is a summary and not at all intended to be exhaustive.

Additional information on the differences between high school and college may be found at:

I just finished 7 Steps for Success: High School to College Transition Strategies for Students with Disabilities by Elizabeth Hamblet. This is a great book that I will recommend to both students and parents. It details important information about the process of transition. Key features of the process to note:

·    Students not parents need to be the primary contact. Self-advocacy is key. If students cannot say what their disability is and what accommodations they need as a result, they will be fish out of water. Students need to lead the discussions with disability services offices and professors.

·    Testing should be less than 3 years old. With todays emphasis on cost cutting, this is an area where districts are likely to skimp, if they can get away with it. A review of records will not serve students well in post secondary options. Furthermore, adult, not children versions of assessments are preferred. Parents and special educators need to advocate for this during triennial reassessment.

·    Accommodations from high school do not automatically accompany students as they enter college. They need to be approved based on the college’s system, which is different for every college.

·    While IEPs are not followed in college, they provide useful documentation and guidance regarding accommodations. There is no need to declassify to a 504 plan as some districts recommend.

The book has a useful chart detailing some accommodations, whether colleges are likely to allow them and possible alternate ideas. Throughout the book are a huge number of web resources that detail specific information. It also has a variety of forms for evaluating colleges and collecting information.

The book is available from CEC for $32.95. It would make a great gift for a family with high school junior with a disability.

For students with autistic spectrum disorders, Autism Speaks has a transitions tool kit available at . This pdf file is loaded with ideas ranging from transition to college to housing options and health information.

Another pdf available book on transitions for students with autistic spectrum disorders is Navigating College: A Handbook of Self-Advocacy. Since many of the challenges discussed are ones that students with Executive Function Disorder, ADHD and TBI may also struggle with, the book has a range of usefulness beyond the ASD community. The beginning of this book is excellent for all students with disabilities entering college.  The second part of the book is a series of essays written by individuals with ASDs describing their challenges and approaches that helped them to be successful. The document is available at: .