Now we know that schools are required by law to help students move from high school to adult life during the transition planning process. You play an important role in making sure that the plan that gets put into place for you during this process is based on what you want to do with your life as an adult.
My opinion matters!
Whose life is it anyway?
There will always be people who have opinions about what you should do with your life, but the most important opinion belongs to you. In order to make sure that the plan that you will use to create a path to your future represents you, you need to be an active participant. Even better, you can lead the process! The idea of planning your future with you and your wishes and needs at the center of the planning is called person-centered planning.
Let’s talk about what I need to do to plan for your future!
Person-centered planning allows you and your family to think through how you can get support from the school, from adult service providers, and other people in your life (like your brothers and sisters or grandparents) to create a plan that really represents the whole you. It gets everyone in your life working to help you get to where you want to go.
Let's make a plan!
Making the transition plan
Your transition plan takes into account where you are now, and helps you and your family to break down the steps to take, supports to identify, education or skills you may need, and changes you will need to make your plans come true.
A transition plan is a document that changes over time – you don’t have to know exactly what you want or need to do, but it is a very helpful tool to help you, your family, your teachers and your support network think deeply about making the most out of your unique interests, skills, and life goals.
A transition plan is something you and your 'team' will re-visit frequently as you grow up, learn more skills, and explore the world around you.
I should handle this myself!
Leading the Charge
Remember, after you leave high school you gain a lot more responsibility for making sure that you achieve all of your dreams and get the support you need. It's a really good idea to practice the skills that adult life will require before you leave high school.
Think about some of the roles that you might take on in planning your meetings and mapping out a route for your future. Are you interested in getting more education, learning a special skill, being a community volunteer, pursuing a particular career path, being a parent, learning new hobbies or sports, living on your own in an apartment, or owning your own car?
These are all activities that could be part of your transition plan.
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
In order to take the lead on planning for your future, there are some skills that you will want to make sure that you learn and practice. You will want to make sure that you have thought about your own strengths and weakness, your preferences and the things that you don’t like so much.
Let's talk about what you are good at and where you need help.
There are a lot of fun tools and quizzes your teachers and case managers can direct you to that will help you to identify not only what you like to do, but to help you learn what skills and talents you already have or may want to develop further.
I will do it myself!
Practice Makes Perfect
In order to really be good at planning for yourself, you have to go beyond thinking and start talking to people about these things. Think back to some of the work you did in your career planning and preparation. If you haven't done any planning yet for your future career, make sure to include that in your transition goals. You can start by talking with your friends and family members about the kind of jobs they do or the kind of jobs they think you might like. Don't forget, you can always talk to your PROMISE Case Manager, your job coach and your teachers about these things.
Self-advocacy is a skill.
Speak up for yourself!
Instead of relying on your teacher to give the accommodations you have identified in your IEP, ask for them yourself and explain why you need them. After you leave high school that will be your job anyway! You might as well get used to it now so you are comfortable doing it with your boss or at your college. This is a life skill called self-advocacy.
How can I get work experience?
Explore your options
If you want to work after high school, go to career fairs, job interviews, or try out jobs whenever you can. You may have already participated in "take your child to work day" or have helped out with jobs for your family and friends like babysitting, cleaning up, volunteering, or helping out at school. These experiences help you build skills that could be used in future jobs, and they also help you explore different types of work to see what you like. Let people know what you are good at and how you think you can help in a job. Tell people why you would make a great employee. Let them know if you’ll need to approach a job, a meeting, or an interview differently.
I'd like to continue my education.
Should I continue my education?
If you plan to continue your education after high school, talk to your guidance counselors, go to college fairs, visit local colleges or universities to get a feel for the programs they have available. Talk to disability services offices or professors in programs you might be interested and tell them why they would be lucky to have you as a student.
Make sure you read through the "Navigating the World of Work" module for more information on this topic!
I need a plan!
Planning for your future
There are a number of ways to plan a person-centered planning meeting. They are tools that allow you and your team to use graphics to describe and plan for your future. It also gets everyone away from the stuffy planning meeting around a big table and gets them excited about you and your future.
Some meetings use a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) plan, or MAPs (Making Action Plans), a tool called "It's My Life" or one called "Essential Life Planning."
Even if you have never heard of these plans or tools, it’s important to know they all lead to the same goal – to help you and your team to figure out what you want out of life, and the steps you’ll need to get there.
Person centered planning gives you control over your own life. It allows you to talk about your dreams and your goals and gets your team to help you identify a way to achieve them. When you talk about all the stuff you want to do with your life, it gets people excited to support you.
That meeting was awesome! People listened to me!
Instead of just being one of many kids who have to have a meeting because the law says so, you become an individual with goals and dreams of your own. It also gives your IEP team a clear path for your future so that you can start working toward your dream.
Here are topics to talk about in your meeting.
Planning the meeting
What are your goals?
Think through who you want at the meeting. Your PROMISE case manager can help.
Who can lead the meeting?
Think about who has the skills to lead the meeting. You want to make sure that they are a good listener and that they give everyone on your team time to talk about all the great stuff you can do. You want to make sure they can get people who tend to be negative to focus on the possibilities rather than the problems. When you do person-centered planning, you talk about the support you need to succeed, but you don't want to let problems that might happen prevent you from dreaming. Work with this person to choose the tool that is right for you and your team. Your PROMISE team can help you find someone who has training in leading meetings like this.
Who will take notes?
Think about who can record the meeting – either with pictures or with words – whatever works best for you… so you and your team can all remember what you talked about. You will want to come back to this later!
Who should come?
Take the time to invite the people who will participate in your transition planning meeting. Write out the invitations, sign them, and mail or deliver them yourself.
How will I share my dreams?
Make sure you think about how to tell people about what your dreams are! If you aren't good at telling people things with words, think about other ways to tell them – a video or some pictures that you could put together to tell your story.
Where will I be 10 years from now?
Use this to start your thinking… if you could close your eyes and imagine yourself 10 years from now where you had everything you ever wanted, your dream job, the perfect home life, involvement in your community… what would it look like? What is not included? Who is helping you?
What's most important?
Think of what is most important for you to work on first – it's easier to make a dream come true if you can prioritize what is most important, AND identify one step you can do right now to help make it happen.
Where should we have the meeting?
Ask your family or your PROMISE case manager to help you find a location that is comfortable and not too fancy… you shouldn’t all be sitting around a conference table. You might want to hold it at someone’s house or at a local library or community center.
What happens after the meeting?
The Person-Centered Planning process can help you, your family and your school decide what assessments to do, what goals to set, and what help you need to reach your goals. The notes from your person-centered planning meeting can serve as a map for you to get to your long term goals as you work on moving into life after high school. Your dreams become your long term goals and every year you can set goals that help you move a little closer to that dream.
Let’s see if you remember the key points!
People who tell teachers and their parents what they want and need are rude.
FALSE. Telling people what you want and need is not rude. Speaking up for yourself is so important to make sure that people understand your goals and can help you achieve your dreams. Find a way to talk to the important people in your life that helps them to understand your dreams and the help you need to achieve them. Your PROMISE team can talk through how you might do this in a way that works for everyone.
Since the school has to make sure you get everything you need, you don’t have to bother taking any responsibility.
FALSE. It may be the school's responsibility to make sure you get what you need, but you won't learn how to ask for things yourself if you don't practice. Practicing while you are in school lets you try while you still have some back-up and it’s a great time to start.
You should have a say in who comes to your person-centered planning meeting.
TRUE. You should absolutely be in charge of who gets invited to your person-centered planning meeting. You should also get to decide who might lead it and who takes notes. You should write and deliver the invitations so that everyone who is invited knows how important the meeting is to you.
Once you have your person-centered planning meeting, you never have to think about it again.
FALSE. The results of your person-centered planning meeting should be a guide to you and your team through-out the transition planning process. Don’t be afraid to pull out your notes or remind people of the meeting if you feel the team is getting off course.
Let’s review this chapter!
Be in charge of your future. Make sure that the people at the table during the transition planning process know that your voice matters. If you can, take the lead in meetings and help to decide who should be at the meeting.
It should be about you. The idea of planning your future with your wishes and needs at the center of everything is called person-centered planning.
Who should help? The person-centered planning process allows you and your family to think through what you need to plan for your future and who should help you. It helps to make sure everyone understands what you want to do in your future and that they are there to help you get there.
Making a plan. The goal of this process is to break down the steps you need to take in order to achieve your future goal. You have time to think through what help you'll need and who can help you and what areas you need to work on to get to where you want to be. Everything is written down in a plan to help keep everyone on track. Make sure you and your team use it to ensure you are making progress towards your future goal.
Don't forget you should be in charge. After you leave high school, you have a lot more responsibility for your future. It's a great idea to practice as much as possible while you still have support. The transition planning process is a great time to build these skills.
Telling people about yourself. It really helps for you to speak up about your skills and interests during the transition planning process. This helps everyone remember that the whole process is about you and your future. Don't be afraid to tell people what’s on your mind. If you need help thinking through how to share your ideas, talk to your PROMISE team.
Practice asking for what you need. Instead of letting your teachers or PROMISE team tell others what you want or need, talk to them about how you can do it yourself. Ask your teachers if you need to do something differently in class, like get extra time to take a test. Talk to your guidance counselor about the kinds of classes you want to take. This skill is called self-advocacy and it is really important for making sure you can speak up for yourself in the future.
Putting the Plan together. There are some great tools to help you plan for your future. Talk to your PROMISE team about what tool might be right for you! When planning your meeting think about:
Who you want at the meeting
Who can lead the meeting
Where can you have the meeting
Who can write down what happened at the meeting
How you should invite people
How you will tell people about your dreams
Remember the notes from this meeting can be a guide for you and your transition team during the whole transition process.
You've made it through Chapter 3!
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