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Art By: Janet Schuldt


Transitions Planning

What Is IDEA?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. In New York State, we have the Part 200 Regulations, which further defines how students receive special education and related services in school. Under IDEA, a student with a disability is mandated to have a TRANSITION PLAN which defines their post secondary goals and the skills they will require for successful transition.

Why does my child need idea?

Under IDEA, an Individualized Education Program (or IEP) is created by the committee on special education (CSE) for a child who may not otherwise be able to access the curriculum with his/her peers. Individualized education program is a written statement, developed, reviewed and revised annually which is provided to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability. At the age of 12, the school district is mandated (required) to start the transition planning process by performing a Strength Based Assessment.

How Does A Child Receive Services Under Idea?

In order for a student to be classified with a disability under IDEA, and receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP), they must meet the criteria for a "Student with a Disability" as it is defined in the NYS regulations: Section 4401(1) of the Education Law states that a student with a disability as one "who has not attained the age of 21 prior to September 1st and who is entitled to attend public schools pursuant to section 3202 of the Education Law and who, because of mental, physical or emotional reasons, has been identified as having a disability and who requires special services and programs approved by the department." At any age, a student can be referred to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) for classification and have an IEP created. The IEP is reviewed annually by the CSE.

There are 13 classifications under IDEA: Autism, Deafness, Deaf-Blindness, Emotional Disturbance, Mental Retardation, Traumatic Brain Injury, Multiply Disabled, Learning Disabled, Hearing Impairment, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health-Impairment, Speech & Language Impairment and Visual Impairment.

Idea Toolbox

Helpful hints

  1. At the age of 15 the IEP Direct format converts to include a section on transition.
  2. Think of the transition portion of a student’s IEP as a "creative writing assignment". There are really no limits to what a student's transition plan should contain.
  3. Build into the transition plan multiple opportunities for community experiences and pre-vocational exposure through volunteering and mentoring.
  4. The "2008 Higher Education Act" was reauthorized to include post-secondary education opportunities for students with complex intellectual and developmental disabilities. "Think College" has more information on these initiatives.
  5. Maintaining a portfolio of diverse community experiences can be an excellent way of tracking the "soft skills" that are key to employment.
  6. Work to layer in natural supports for the student in both school and community based experiences: using peer mentors and local merchants can provide a more natural transition experience than traditional 1:1 aides and job coaches.
  7. Drivers Ed, Sex Ed, Travel training and many other transition supports are defined as "Related Service" for students of transition age. Layer them into the students IEP.
  8. Think big! Never edit your child's hopes and dreams. Disabled students are entitled to the same possibilities as their peers. Our challenge is to help them find their way.

Need More Help?

Arc of Westchester's Navigation Team is here for you. For more information on how Arc of Westchester can work with you on these many Transitions Issues, contact Carol Gearing of the Arc of Westchester at (914) 495-4620 or by email at [email protected].