Life is full of transitions, and one of the more remarkable ones occurs when we get ready to leave high school and go out in the world as young adults. When the student has a disability, it's especially helpful to plan ahead for that transition. In fact, IDEA requires it.
Under IDEA, transition planning from school to adult life begins, at the latest, during high school. In fact, transition planning is required, by law, to start once a student reaches 16 years of age, or younger, if appropriate. This transition planning becomes formalized as part of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a written document listing, among other things, the special educational services that the child will receive. The IEP is developed by a team that includes the child's parents and school staff.
Transition services are intended to prepare students to make the transition from the world of school to the world of adulthood. In planning what type of transition services a student needs to prepare for adulthood, the IEP team considers areas such as postsecondary education or vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation. The transition services themselves are a coordinated set of activities that are based on the student's needs and that take into account his or her preferences and interests.263