Section under construction

Ages 14-21: Transition Planning

Understanding transitions

Under Virginia law, transition planning for youth with disabilities must begin at age 14. This process is outlined by the post-secondary transition portion of the IEP.

IEP transition planning is intended to be a thoughtful, collaborative, and, most of all, person-centered process to assist your child in moving from educationally-based services to adulthood. Transition plans are individual, based on the strengths, goals and wishes of your child. These plans will likely incorporate many new individuals, including adult service providers, vocational rehabilitation specialists, community service agencies and more, depending on the unique plan of your child. 



Elements of the transition plan

Key elements of transition planning

Transition assessments are both formally and informally conducted.  Formal assessments use standardized measures in preparing, scoring and measuring the assessments. Formal assessments may be used to compare one student to another. Informal assessments, on the other hand, are less structured, and can include measurements such as interviews and preference assessment inventories. 

Age-appropriate transition assessment (AATA)

AATA is an ongoing process that tells the unique story of your child--from what accommodations he or she may need, to current life skills he or she has mastered, as well as his or her strengths and weaknesses. 

Student vision (under construction)

Your child will be at the heart of developing their vision for life after high school. Some areas that must be considered include:

  • Employment
    • What jobs are of interest to your child?
    • What skills does your child have to support these interests?
    • What supports/training/coaching/services would be needed to support this type of employment?
  • Independent living
    • Where will your child live when he or she exits high school?
    • Who will help your child pay bills, secure an apartment or determine what residential setting he or she will live in?
    • What supports are needed to enable your child to live on their own?
  • Recreation & leisure
    • What hobbies is your child interested in? 
    • How will your child be transported to events in the community?
  • Post-secondary education
    • Will your child receive a college education? Trade or technical school?

Post-secondary goals (under construction)

Post-secondary goals are defined as goals your child wishes to achieve during their adult life. Three major areas are addressed in post-secondary goals including post-secondary education, employment and training and independent living skills.

Post-secondary education

Post-secondary education is considered as enrollment in one of the following:

  • Four year college or university
  • Two year college or associates program
  • Non-degree program for students with disabilities on college campuses
  • Vocational or technical schools
  • Life skills programs
  • Job-training programs

Check out this guide by the Virginia Department of Education just for students with disabilities who are interested in attending a college program!

Competitive employment and training

Competitive employment is simply defined as an individual with a disability working alongside individuals without disabilities for minimum wage or more. If your child has more significant disabilities, he or she may receive supported employment services. Supported employment services provide employment assistance and supports such as job placement, job coaching, job development, retention and more.

For more information on supported employment, check out this link.

Course of study (under construction)

Once your child's adult goals have been defined, the transition team will develop a multi-year description of the courses and experiences needed to support these adult goals. They must coordinate with the adult goals and specific needs of your child. 

Transition services (under construction)

Transition services are a set of coordinated services and activities that will prepare your child for life after high school. Again, they will be based on your child's unique abilities and interests. Transition services must be provided prior to your child's graduation.

Examples of transition services include:

  • Instruction
  • Community living experiences
  • Daily living skills training
  • Functional vocational assessments
  • Other related services 

Agencies and providers (under construction)

During transition meetings, your child will be introduced to new members of his or her team. These members will be representatives from agencies and organizations who your child will work with in the future. Some examples of agencies who may be in attendance include: 

  • Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
  • Employment services organization (community-based employment, supported employment or sheltered workshop, job coaches)
  • Day support programs (individuals who choose not to work but have daytime activities)
  • Community service board (case management, respite services, vocactional & pre-vocational day support services and Medicaid waivers). 
  • College program representative
  • Advocate
  • Social Security Administration representative
  • Attorney (regarding guardianship)

Annual goals and connected outcomes (under construction)

There must be meaningful connections between what your child is learning in high school to what they will be doing after high school. Likewise, their annual goals must align with their how their post-secondary goals will be met.

Summary of performance

Required as part of IDEA, the Summary of Performance includes the following: 

  • A brief overview of your child's academic achievement and functional performance
  • Information based on the your child's unique needs and post-secondary goals
  • Recommendations to assist the student in achieving  his/her post-secondary goals
  • Guidance for your child to understand the unique accommodations and supports he or she may need to succeed in post-secondary life. 


Transition resources (under construction)

Transition Resources Under Construction


Resources to address independent living

Centers for Independent Living

Click here to access an independent living checklist by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition. Click here to download the checklist in Spanish.

Resources to address post-secondary education & employment

Click here to access the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition's Post-Secondary Education Toolkit.

Resources to address health & safety

The University of Wisconsin-Madison University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities has created a health & safety awareness curriculum that addresses the unique needs of youth with developmental disabilities. Click here to access the curriculum.

Resources to address recreation & friendship

The Arc of Massachusetts offers an excellent toolkit on developing friendships. Click here to download it.

Resources to address finances & legal issues

Finance & budgeting

  • Cents & Sensibility, created by the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation, offers financial education information, including budgeting, credit and more. Click here to access the website.
  • has developed a curriculum for students with exceptional needs. Click here to access the materials.

Legal issues

Next steps

Moving from entitlement to eligibility

Additional Information

When your child reaches the age of 18, he or she becomes his or her own legal decision maker, unless guardianship or power of attorney is obtained. For more information on guardianship options, click here

There is an immense difference between entitlement of services and eligibility for services during adulthood. As your child ages and progresses through the educational system, it is important to understand these differences.

In Virginia, your child is entitled to receive special education services until they reach the age of 21, or fulfill the requirements for a high school diploma. After your child surpasses the age of 21 or obtains a diploma, she or she is no longer entitled to the services.

When your child reaches the adult service world, he or she will be required to meet the criteria established by the service provider. Criteria can include being toilet-trained, able perform meal preparation or more. Unfortunately, there are times than even when eligibility is met, a provider may not always have the capacity to accept new clients.

It is important that transition planning address this movement beginning at age 14.