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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Community-Based Supports: Critical Components of Effective Transition Planning


By Marilyn Weber
Transition Specialist and Parent Consultant

Director of Transition Services

December 20, 2014

In Massachusetts, schools are required to begin planning needed transition services beginning when the eligible student is 14 for the IEP developed that year. In order to facilitate this planning process, The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) designed the Transition Planning Form (TPF) 28M/9 to be used prior to or at the time of annual development of the student’s IEP.

Transition planning using the TPF can promote collaborative discussion among team members, creative thinking, and a sense of self-determination and shared responsibility for the student. Moreover, it requires the team to look beyond what is provided to students inside a school building and consider the ultimate goal of special education, being prepared for adult life.

To learn more about the Transition Planning Form (TPF) 28M/9 or to download a copy, visit the MA DESE web resource regarding Transition from School to Adult Life - http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/links/transition.html.

Page two of the TPF features the action plan for the student. It outlines how the student is going to develop necessary skills to be prepared academically and functionally for postsecondary education/training, employment, and adult living through instruction, employment and community experiences.

While community experiences are arguably the most important aspect for transitioning a student from a structured and often sheltered school program to an included and community-based postsecondary life, this part of the action plan may be limited, forgotten and/or misunderstood.

So what are community experiences?

Community experiences are those that occur where the student plans to work, live, play and go to school as an adult. These experiences provide opportunities for students to take skills that have been learned in isolation and generalize them outside the school walls.

They additionally provided critical opportunities for development of self-determination and independence around living, transportation, recreation and leisure.

Community as it pertains to employment (may be labeled as employment or as a community experience):
  • Company tours;
  • Informational interviewing;
  • Job shadowing and job exploration through paid or unpaid internships;
  • After-school or summer employment;
  • Using a one-stop career resource center;
  • Visiting a vocational counselor’s office.
Community as it pertains to education (may be labeled as instruction or as community experience):
  • Participation in community college;
  • Certificate program;
  • Adult education;
  • Dual enrollment in public college or university;
  • Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) program;
  • Fitness classes.
Community as it pertains to social skills:
  • Greetings and social amenities (e.g., please, thank you, you’re welcome);
  • Walking in hallways and crowded spaces;
  • Waiting in lines;
  • Leisure activities/joining community clubs;
  • Developing new friendships and relationships.
Community as it pertains to safety:
  • Identifying strangers;
  • Identifying community members that can offer help (e.g., police, fire fighters, help desk workers, store owners);
  • Interactions with law enforcement officers.
Community as it pertains to emotional health:
  • Meeting with a therapist outside of school;
  • Visiting a recovery learning center;
  • Yoga classes;
  • Support groups.
Community as it pertains to independence:
  • Shopping (food, personal care);
  • Banking and managing money;
  • Driving/learning public transportation/assisted transportation;
  • Using a laundromat;
  • Locating health care providers.
 Community experiences should be individualized based on the needs and postsecondary goals of the student. Creating a supportive action plan requires the team to become familiar and stay current with resources beyond the school walls.

To learn more about including community experiences as part of transition planning for your child and/or to participate in community-based coaching services through NESCA, complete our intake fact sheet today: https://fs11.formsite.com/nesca/form1/index.html.

Indicate your interest in consultation and/or a coaching intake with Transition Specialist Marilyn Weber under Reason for Referral.

About Marilyn Weber, Transition Specialist

Ms. Weber is a seasoned advocate and parent consultant, specializing in transition services and skill development for adolescents and young adults. Ms. Weber joined NESCA in Fall, 2014 in order to offer Community-Based Skills Coaching services as well as short-term consultation to families and professionals.

Ms. Weber brings decades of experience working in schools and community agencies as a job developer, job coach, work study coordinator, school to careers coordinator, transition coordinator, parent and professional trainer, and Parent Consultant. She received her advocacy training through The Federation of Children with Special Needs (FCSN), Wrightslaw and OSEP/COPAA’s SEAT program with a practicum at FCSN.

Ms. Weber was the Partnership Director for DRYVE, a youth career center funded by the Workforce Initiative Act. She is a member of Massachusetts Advocates for Children Autism Advisory Committee and Transition Coordinator Subcommittee which recently passed “An Act Relative to Students with Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education, Employment and Independent Living.” She is the proud mother of a young adult with Autism.

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