Monday, January 17, 2011

Planning For The Future: When to Start Thinking About Transition Planning

It may sound funny to admit this but one of the first things we thought about when we found out about our daughters' intellectual disabilities were how to make them as independent as possible so they would be able to live on their own as adults.  You might think we were jumping the gun but in a funny way it was always part of our plan for their futures.  When our oldest daughter was three we didn't know what her future would hold but we did know we wanted her and her sister to be as independent as possible.  So we started by looking for a great school district, not just one with a great special education department but one with a good regular education department too.  We knew they would have to become part of the overall educational system as children and teens if they were going to become an integrated part of society after graduation.  This meant they were part of regular sports teams and part of regular scout troops as well as part of activities designed for the differently able.  I can't say it was easy along the way, sometimes it was, sometimes it was hellacious (hmm is that a word? well anyway, you get the idea) but no matter what it was rewarding in the end.  Today most school districts have special ed students in regular classes, but when they started school there were still the traditional classrooms for just special ed students.  Later I'll tell you some of our stories about the work to get them into regular classrooms with regular ed students! But that's a tale for another day.

So if you have a child with disabilities start thinking about what their abilities are.  What CAN they do, not what can't they do.  Plan for the future today because tomorrow comes faster than you think.  Small things like teaching them to plan their time and how to do simple household chores will pay off in the longterm.  Is what I write here the answer for every family? No, because each of our children are different and no one size fits all.  So take the advice that 'fits' your family and find what works for you.

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