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Article: When Your Child Becomes an Adult

When Your Child Becomes an Adult

Research has found reduced self-determination for a young adult can lead to diminished quality of life outcomes and reduced community integration and participation.

Obstacles Ahead

Young adults with ID/DD, guardianship may be an obstacle to the development of self-determination skills that are necessary for life after high school, such skills can be critical thinking, self-advocacy, and knowledge of one’s own skills, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. IDEA requires planning ahead for this transition to adulthood.


Your child’s life could be full of transitions, and one of the most phenomenal ones occurs when your child gets ready to leave high school and go out in the world as young adult. When the student has a disability, it is especially helpful to plan for that transition.

  • Transition services are intended to prepare students to move from the world of school to the world of adulthood.
  • Transition planning begins during high school at the latest. IDEA requires that transition planning start by the time the student reaches age 16.
  • Transition planning may start earlier (when the student is younger than 16) if the IEP team decides it would be appropriate to do so. o Transition planning takes place as part of developing the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). o The IEP team (which includes the student and the parents) develops the transition plan.
  • The student must be invited to any IEP meeting where postsecondary goals and transition services needed to reach those goals will be considered. o In transition planning, the IEP team considers areas such as postsecondary education or vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation.
  • Transition services must be a coordinated set of activities oriented toward producing results.
  • Transition services are based on the student’s needs and must consider his or her preferences and interests.

Specific Domains of Adulthood

The definition of transition services mentions specific domains of adulthood to be addressed during transition planning. The following are:

  • Postsecondary education
  • Vocational education
  • Integrated employment (including supported employment)
  • Continuing and adult education
  • Adult services
  • Independent living
  • Community participation