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Parents’ Suggested Timeline for Transition from School to Life

Student Age

Action Needed


  • Your child’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) should include social, communication, and self-help skills with at least functional math and functional reading in regular classroom settings (if appropriate)

By 14

  • Begin Transition Planning (focus on student’s course of study)
  • Learn about exit options to ensure that your child will be able to reach his/her goals (example: going to college or military service)

No Later than 16

  • Transition planning (focus on interagency responsibility or any needed linkages)
  • Identify job interests and abilities and some job training
  • Begin to identify community services that provide job training and placement
  • Prepare job placement file with references and skills that have been acquired
  • Begin application to adult service agencies
  • Consider summer employment or participate in volunteer experiences


  • Contact Adult Services programs:
    - Colleges, vocational or technical schools
    - Social Security Administration
    - Residential or independent living services
    - Recreation/leisure groups
    - Medical services


  • Begin to consider and research Guardianship
  • Continue to review and update Transition Plan
  • If college-bound, take ACT or SAT tests, visit colleges and their disability services offices, and register with the disability service office of your preferred school by the end of Senior year


  • Continue to review and update Transition Plan
  • Establish needed health benefits
  • Develop long-term financial support plan (example: SSI)

21 and beyond

  • There is support available to adults with DREAMS for the future.
* Some students may remain in school and continue working on transition goals through age 21 or as defined by state law. Adapted and reprinted with permission from Full Life Ahead: A Workbook and Guide to Adult Life for Students & Families of Students with Disabilities (2006), by Judy Barclay and Jan Cobb, published by the Full Life Ahead Foundation, Birmingham, Alabama. For further information on the entire guide visit or call 866/700-2026.


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Retrieved from the Web site of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota ( Citation: Gaylord, V., Agosta, J., Barclay, J., Melda, K. & Stenhjem, P. (Eds.). (2006). Impact: Feature Issue on Parenting Teens and Young Adults with Disabilities 19(2). [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.]

The PDF version of this Impact, with photos and graphics, is also online at

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