In addition to the structured IEP and transition planning, you should work with your child to make the move from school to adult life. You might want to begin by finding out from your child:
Talk to your child and learn what her goals are. Find out what she likes to do and what she can do. Learn what you can do to help her reach her goals, and what other kind of help she will need to reach her goals.
Talk to her teachers and counselors to know what is realistic for her. If appropriate, you may want to encourage her to get a job while she is still in high school. Supported employment may be appropriate for many youth who are transitioning. Supported employment gives people with disabilities the chance to work in productive jobs in real community settings. Many community mental health centers have vocational rehabilitation staff who can help your child find a job or connect her with supported employment.
It’s not too early to think about her living situation after high school. It may be appropriate for her to stay at home for a while. On the other hand, she may want to get an apartment or live with a roommate. Some young people will do better in group homes or residential facilities. You need to find out what’s available in your community.
Will she be able to support herself on wages from a job, or will she need additional help. If she has a disability, find out whether she qualifies for Social Security Income (SSI) or other assistance programs such as food stamps.
If your child is currently receiving Medicaid, find out what needs to be done to make sure her Medicaid continues after she turns 18. Don’t wait until her 18th birthday to do this, because you don’t want any gaps in her medical coverage. If she is not Medicaid eligible, read your health insurance policy to find out whether or under what conditions your insurance will cover her after she turns 18.
Help her learn about money management by giving her an allowance, or working out a budget with her when she gets a job. Teach her how to register to vote. Teach your son how to register for the draft.
Talk to her about dating, marriage and even family planning. Find out how she plans to make friends. Encourage her to become involved in her church or temple.