Ask the Expert - Tim Averre, Orange City Schools
Posted on 02/23/18 in Transition to Adulthood by Milestones
As Transition Coordinator for Orange City Schools, the primary focus of my job is to assist families and students in the coordination of transition services that will enable favorable post-secondary outcomes. Or in less formal language, I help connect individuals with agencies, activities and services that will assist them in reaching their goals for life after high school. These goals address the areas of post-secondary education, employment, and independent living.
In this role, I have also created resources, such as the Transition Portal, a website for students, parents and staff to familiarize themselves with topics and resources pertaining to transition. The site also includes electronic surveys and forms that enable the IEP team to gather specific information about a student’s “PINS”: preferences, interests, needs and skills. PINS are needed in order to develop an individualized transition plan for each student turning 14 years old until completion of school services upon acceptance of the high school diploma.
Having served in transition and intervention positions for many years now, my main advice is to always remember that transition is a marathon not a sprint. The significance of the transition to adulthood cannot be understated, and is arguable the very purpose of all educational activities (within and outside of school services) prior to graduation. Therefore, it is a topic that cannot be comprehensively addressed in one article, nor completely mastered in a year, or four, or thirty. With that being the case, families and students must focus on identifying your PINS, being able to advocate for yourself, and picking one transition topic to study each year until graduation from high school. I have yet to meet someone no longer working on obtaining their transition goals, myself included. We must consistently utilize our awareness of preferences, interests, needs and skills to make future education and training, vocational and living decisions. I believe doing so helps us all reach the highest level of satisfaction and meaning in our lives.
It is highly unlikely that anyone’s path follows a straight, predictable line, steadily advancing upward. For the vast majority of us, there are a lot more peaks and valleys, abrupt turns and unexpected detours on our quest to reach adulthood. Each one of us is responsible for how we interpret the detours and how quickly we choose to reassess our goals and revise our strategies for attaining them.
Some detours help us identify new preferences and interests, such as a waterfall or scenic vista. Others present as obstacles for us to utilize skills and identify needs, such as the bridge being out, or steeper terrain. When the gap between skills and needs can be remedied with acquisition of knowledge through training, or utilization of accommodations, such as turn by turn navigation on our GPS, we find we can stay the course! When the gap between needs and skills is too great, such as a bottomless pit with spike-covered walls and floating snakes wielding flamethrowers, we are able to adjust our route or determine if a different destination altogether serves us best.
Transition services can help you get acquainted with your GPS, hiking stick and rucksack, but it is up to you to choose what to pack, what to use, and where to go.
I wish you all a rich and epic journey, hopefully devoid of levitating, pyromaniac reptiles.
If you are on this blog, then you are probably already aware of the exceptional resource and support that makes up Milestones. I would also recommend familiarizing yourself with updates and events disseminated through: Livespecial, Autism Speaks, Youth Abilities and the Friendship Circle. I encourage all families to keep current with community resources and recreation center brochures for summer activities and opportunities. For example, the Solon Recreation Center has published the “Blue Ribbon Adapted Recreation Spring and Summer Program.” The offerings include socializing activities, fitness, swimming, crafts, dance and more. Fun awaits!
Tim Averre is Transition Coordinator for Orange City Schools in Cleveland, Ohio. With a passion for supporting younger generations, Tim works with students to define their goals and connects them with agencies, activities and services that will assist them in succeeding in areas such as post-secondary education, employment, and independent living.