Using the School Years to the Max!

Public school is the last mandated service that a student with a disability can access. After graduation, a person must apply to get services and supports and prove eligibility through income as well as disability. Public school is the last opportunity for free education, with a wide range of modifications and a requirement for parent input. Make the most of public school services as you plan for your youth’s transition to adulthood. Here are a few ideas to consider while you and your youth plan in the school setting:

Create a vision for the future. Ask for a planning session at school to discuss your youth’s future. Many districts have planning tools and interest/vocational inventories in place to help with this process. Invite your youth, family and friends, as well as relevant school staff, to your planning meeting. Be sure that you are clear on when your youth will graduate (ask staff to explain graduation options) and that your youth has a voice at the meeting.

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TEA Guidance on Inviting Agency Representatives to an ARD/IEP Meeting

The following information is excerpted from the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) webpage Guidance for Inviting Agency Representatives to Admission, Review, and Dismissal Committee Meeting:

Current federal regulations govern the provision of services for sixteen-year-old students with disabilities or for younger students if determined appropriate by the admission, review and dismissal (ARD) committee. These provisions require that a student’s individualized education program (IEP) include measurable postsecondary goals as well as the transition services needed to assist the student in reaching those goals (34 CFR §300.320(b)). Further, provisions at 34 CFR §300.321(b)(3) require a local educational agency (LEA) to invite a representative of any agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services to the transition meeting.

LEAs must also comply with 34 CFR §300.622(b)(2), which protects a student’s confidential information from unauthorized disclosure to agencies that participate in the ARD committee meeting. Specifically, this section requires the LEA to obtain parental consent, or the consent of an eligible student who has reached the age of majority (adult student), for the release of personally identifiable information to officials of participating agencies that will provide or pay for transition services. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) further specifies the requirements for the protection of privacy of parents and students under Section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act as amended.

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Tips for Surviving Your Freshman Year of College

One of the first things I figured out after I graduated from high school and went to college was that college has a lot more responsibilities and work than high school.  In high school, you may have had a whole posse (group of people to support you) behind you, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, etc.  In college, you are on your own to find the help you need, even if you do not know what that need is yet.  The following is a tip sheet to assist you in your quest for higher education.

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Texas Success Initiative and Postsecondary Education

Traditionally students with disabilities could enroll in any educational institution (community college, junior college, four year college/university), trade school or technical institute that would accept them. Recently, Texas passed legislation (Texas Success Initiative – TSI) designed to help postsecondary institutions determine, if a student is ready for college level coursework.

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Transitioning Between Schools

When we have children with disabilities, we hear the word “transition” a lot. And most of the time, we are talking about our children’s transition into adulthood.

But even though that is an important transition, it isn’t the first one your child will face. There are transitions between home and preschool, preschool and elementary school, middle and high school – and maybe even between school districts, if your family moves. A child with a disability may be in school past the age of 18 and have even more transitions.

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IEPs and School Transfers

IDEA provides guidelines for a child with a disability transferring to another school in or out of district within the same state or out of state. The guidelines are specific as to the child’s right to have a free appropriate public education with services that are comparable to those in the previous IEP. It is important that the parents get copies of school records for their files, check with the new and existing schools to be sure the transfer request is made, make sure all records related to special or related services are included, and follow up with both schools if the transfer is not completed in a timely manner.

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Awkward! The Tough Transition to Middle School

Article by Kelly Wallace, CNN 

There is a reason why when people post pictures of themselves during their middle school years on Facebook for “Throw Back Thursday,” we all stop and take notice.

We recognize the fear or uncertainty or absolute angst in their eyes.

Raging hormones. Changing bodies. Awkward social interactions. No longer a child but not yet an adult. Those are just a few of the zillion reasons why most of us would never want to go back to that time, and why some parents of beginning middle schoolers are freaking out as school starts.

After all, studies have shown that the jump from elementary to middle school can be a painful transition for adolescents, whose worries grow to include greater academic responsibility, burgeoning sexuality and complex social structures.

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Disability Disclosure in Postsecondary Education

Accommodations at the postsecondary level (after you exit high school) are provided only when a student discloses his or her disability and requests reasonable accommodations.

It is not essential to divulge specific personal information about your disability. What is most important and helpful is to provide information about:

  •  how your disability affects your capacity to learn and study effectively
  • the environment, supports, and services you’ll need in order to access, participate in, and excel in your area of study

YOU decide what and how much information is necessary to reveal in order to obtain the needed accommodations.  Keep the disclosure conversation focused on your abilities, not on your disability.

Who do I talk to?

Most universities, community colleges and vocational schools have a disability office or coordinator who provides support services to students with disabilities.   The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act both provide protections for students with disabilities at the postsecondary level.

When do I disclose?

If you expect to have accommodations in place at the beginning of the semester, then you will need to talk to the Disability Office either prior to enrollment, or at the time of enrollment.  If you decide to wait until classes begin, you may not immediately receive the needed accommodations.  YOU decide when and if you want to disclose.

Download this fact sheet >


Adapted from National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. (2005).  The 411 on Disability Disclosure Workbook. Washington, DC: Institute for Educational Leadership.


U.S. Department of Education Publishes New Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities

Transition planning is a mandatory aspect of special education service delivery, according to federal special education law (IDEA 20 U.S.C. 1400). Federal law requires that school special education teams engage in transition planning for each student’s transition to adulthood — that is, from high school to college or employment.

The law states specific requirements for transition planning. These requirements include timing, assessment, goals, and services. In January 2017, the United States Department of Education published “A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities,” which explains IDEA’s requirement for transition planning and its relationship to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

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Supported Decision-Making

Most people with disabilities can manage their own affairs with assistance and guidance from a person whom they trust and do not need a guardian. There are many alternatives to guardianship that give people with disabilities support to make decisions without taking away their rights. During the 84th Texas Legislative Session in 2015, legislators passed new laws that make Texas the first state to have laws recognizing supported decision-making agreements as an alternative to guardianship. Continue reading this informative article from Disability Rights Texas to learn more about supported decision-making.

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