Transitions can be defined by stages of life or moments in a day, even by the people we meet, skills we learn and places we live. One thing is true for more people than not, transitions are hard! Our family members with special needs often deal with transition periods differently as well. This sections will talk about transitions in their life and supports for them and for your whole family. Don’t see what you’re looking for here? Just set up a time to talk with a Parent Navigator and they will help guide you through this leg of the journey too.
There are supports which can help make the transition process easier. You don’t have to make the long-haul journey by yourselves. Trainings and Parent Navigation are available at Stone Soup Group (SSG) or you can look into one of these many programs.
Zero to three
A child from ages 0-3 can access ILP services . These may also be called Part C services. As a child nears the age of three, the transition process of moving from Part C to what is called Part B, or preschool services, will occur. Both of these are ‘parts’ of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA.
Families should work with their ILP to develop an individualized family service plan (IFSP) for helping the child transition smoothly to a special education or other preschool. This plan needs to be developed and started no later than the child’s third birthday.
For information on transitions from ILPs to pre-schools including a guide to the transition process titled
“Step Ahead Age Three,” you can call 907- 465-3170 or you can go to this website.
Leaving High School
The following resources are available to young adults with special needs that are in the process of transitioning to life after school. Stone Soup Group (SSG) can assist individuals and families better understand and navigate these resources as well as provide classes and trainings in the areas of self-advocacy, friendship and dating, sexual health, critical thinking and other practical life skills. Contact us for more information on any of these services.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides a process for preparing your young adult from secondary (high) school to post-secondary life. This process should begin by the first Individualized Education Plan (IEP) after the child turns 16. It may begin earlier if determined appropriate by the IEP team, and updated annually thereafter.
The transition IEP must include:
Goals: Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills;
Services: The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals; and
There are programs to guide your young adult into understanding their own path, telling their story and becoming more involved. Peer Power and Alaska Youth Advocates are both great places that will introduce your young adult to the world of advocacy and storytelling.
Statewide, various organizations facilitate a friendship and dating program developed by the University in Alaska. This curriculum offers 20 sessions to young adults ages 14-22 over a 10 week period. The participants learn to identify feelings and emotions, how to react and interact in different settings, how to start a conversation, go on a date and, even more important, how to say no. All the social intricacies of making friends and dating and maneuvering through are community are discussed.
Guardianship or conservatorship allows families or their designees to oversee financial and/or other decisions which may be needed as their child becomes an adult. There are levels of guardianship, power of attorney or conservatorship that must be understand clearly. These are important decisions to be made. Classes on this topic may be found at Stone Soup Group or at the state throughout the year.
Estate and Future Planning
Special needs trusts can protect the benefits which your child receives while giving them flexible funding, for when you are no longer there.
For more information on Special Needs Trusts, contact us or call at 561-3701
A person-centered plan is a way to set goals and next steps for an individual’s life. It is an inclusive process by a team developed by the person and family. Person-centered Planning is an internationally recognized process for planning in a collaborative and respectful manner for the future of a person who experiences a disability.
For information on Person-centered Planning in Alaska, you can contact the Center for Human Development
Anchorage: (907) 272-8270
Toll Free: 1-800-243-2199
TTY: (907) 264-6206
Postsecondary & Vocational Programs
Post-secondary programs (for students with special needs up to age 21) are provided by some local school districts. There are disability program offices at each University that can help guide an individual’s IEP (or other high school services) into a 504 ADA compliant plan so that a campus and its services can be accessed. For information on such programs contact your local university or school district.
The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) can also provide free services that your child may be able to access such as:
- Counseling, especially about disability issues that affect you
- Help choosing the job goal that’s right for the individual
- Referral to other agencies that can help for the individual
- On-the-job training with a real employer
- Training designed, to help for the individual adjust to working
- Job search and placement services
There are DVR counselors supporting many high schools and districts throughout the state as well.
For information on DVR services in Alaska you can call:
Toll Free (800) 478-2815 or visit the State of Alaska online.