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Don't forget this critical piece of your child's IEP

Individualized Education Programs are critical tools to ensure students with special needs get the attention and services they need in the academic setting. The plans typically specify any classroom accommodations that your child needs, annual education goals and details on the services he or she should receive from school educators and administrators.

An IEP should also address how a child will transition out of the school environment after high school. Unfortunately, this element often is overlooked. This oversight can threaten a student's independent living after high school. It can also leave him or her without suitable options for employment and education. 

Why the transition plan is so critical

A solid transition plan lays the foundation for life after high school. It helps students and their support network identify academic, professional and personal objectives and then defines the services and tools that can help a child succeed in these objectives.

Without an adequate transition plan in place, child with special needs can get lost and confused. They can find it difficult to maintain independent living. They can also lose sight of their abilities and skills. 

Making a transition plan in your child's IEP

You don't need to wait until your child is ready to graduate to think about transition planning. In fact, you should start thinking about it by the time your son or daughter turns 16. 

Sadly, as noted in this Huffington Post article, transition planning is neglected for far too many students. Even when transition discussions happen, they are frequently cursory or vague, leaving significant room for a student to fall through the cracks. To avoid this, parents and educators should be diligent in helping a student translate interests and strengths into real-world goals. 

It is also important for parents to challenge any gaps or issues with noncompliance when it comes to transition plans and compliance with federal laws. 

Should any issues arise with transitions plan or any other element of an IEP, parents have the option to consult an attorney who can help them understand their legal rights and options.

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