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Transition Planning During COVID-19

Posted on 08/18/20 in Transition to Adulthood by Milestones

Transition Planning During COVID-19

Even though many students will not be returning to brick and mortar classrooms this fall, effective transition planning still needs to continue. Whether your student is just entering high school or has already socially graduated, the school years left are critical to develop skills to make them successful adults. Milestones Autism Resources encourages IEP teams to meet virtually and to be creative about creating transition-related goals that can be done outside of school walls. Our team has compiled resources and examples to help teams prepare and implement impactful transition plans during remote learning.

Overall Mission & Vision for Your Transition IEP:
One of the most comprehensive guides available that addresses this issue is the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) Guide. It provides resources geared toward state agencies and local providers providing services in virtual, distanced, or hybrid formats during COVID-19. Families and professionals can find dozens of examples of possible IEP goals related to each area of the overall transition plan, as well as guidance on how to embed them into the school day at home. Here is a video from the staff at NTACT explaining more of their resources and recommendations for providing transition-focused activities online and at home.

Career Exploration From Home:
Your student can still “observe jobs on-site” when learning remotely by using video catalogs. The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center has a library of career exploration videos that can be used to help students learn about a variety of career paths. You can also check out CareerOneStop.org for a comprehensive video collection showing different industries and employment options to explore.

If your student has already taken vocational assessment or interest inventories, look at skills required for those jobs that could be worked on from home. For example, if a student is interested in clerical work, the IEP team could complete a Basic Technology Online Assessment like this one and have defined goals provided for the student to practice like learning how to search for words or do a grammar check.

Independent Living Skills Areas:
Many Milestones families expressed that the spring school shutdown highlighted the many daily living skills their children had not mastered. We encourage parents to re-focus on critical skills for adulthood like hygiene and food preparation. If an age-appropriate transition assessment around Independent Living Skills has not been completed, ask your IEP team to perform one like this one from The Arkansas Transition Center. Having the data from a daily living skills assessment can provide the team with information on what skills should be targeted while at home.

Members of the IEP team can help create supports like visuals or social stories to help parents develop these critical life skills. Parents and other caregivers can create them as well, here is an example for a student with complex needs.

Post-Secondary Education Preparation:
Even though many colleges are providing remote instruction, it is important that we maintain work on skills to prepare students for post-secondary studies if that is their path. By 16-years-old if the student plans to attend a post-secondary institution, they should complete a college readiness assessment to provide benchmarks for the IEP team to develop goals. Here is an assessment that will highlight clear IEP goals based on how the student performed.

If one of the deficient areas is around taking notes, the IEP team can craft a goal around developing effective notetaking habits. Teaching a student how to take better notes remotely might be as simple as finding a technological program that works for that student such as the Otter Voice free app that lets the student record lectures and meetings, while creating digital transcripts of the recordings. As people talk, the app displays their words on screen, so students can see what the speaker is saying as they listen. The recordings and transcripts are also searchable, and students can share them with others.

Community Integration/Community Experiences:
This is a tricky one to accomplish with COVID-19 restrictions, but it can be done with a creative IEP team! Milestones is hosting families (event info here) at the Center of a Connected Community in October, which will provide parents with an educational series providing tools and methods to build long-term friendships and a sense of purpose and belonging within their communities.

Showing families how to build community connections even when we can’t socialize the way we used to can still reduce social isolation and bring the person with ID/DD and families’ gifts into the community by implementing an engagement project together with other citizens. You should also check on online programs like The Best Buddies e-Buddies program, which promotes social inclusion online. In e-Buddies, people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (age 10 and up) come together via email to form friendships and a community that celebrates their diversity of character and abilities. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to connect with other during this time of social distancing.

Remember even though you can’t take your children to public cultural spaces like museums, you can still visit them online. Check out this list of places in Ohio to visit virtually. Just because we are stuck indoors doesn’t mean children with disabilities shouldn’t be exposed to the wonderful opportunities available for everyone!

Transition Guides, Tools and Activities in Spanish from The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center are available here. For more assistance with transition planning for Spanish-speaking families, please contact informacion@milestones.org

For Transition-Related Educational Staff:
The Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment provides some free evidence-based resources through The Transition Assessment and Goal Generator (TAGG), which is an online transition assessment with validity and reliability evidence. The TAGG assesses postsecondary employment and education skills of individuals with mild to moderate disabilities.

The TAGG assessment consists of Professional, Student, and Family versions. The 34-item assessment measures student performance across eight constructs: (a) knowledge of strengths and limits, (b) disability awareness, (c) persistence, (d) interacting with others, (e) goal setting and attainment, (f) employment, (g) student involvement in the IEP, and (h) support community. The TAGG automatically provides a norm-based graphic profile, present level of performance statement, lists of strengths and needs, and suggested IEP annual transition goals based on the identified greatest student needs.

In need of more individualized support? Contact our professional staff today, through the Milestones free autism Helpdesk at 216.464.7500 ext. 200 or by completing a form here.

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