Yesterday, I held an annual IEP meeting for one of my students. Of course, I cannot go into detail…but the specifics aren’t really the point in this case. What does have me writing, wanting to share? My student has just turned 20 years old. He is living in a group home. Present at the IEP meeting: Program Manager for the residential facility, House supervisor, parent, individual therapist, student, speech/language pathologist, school psychologist, DDD (now called DDA) caseworker, and me (special education teacher). How wonderful is that?
My student will remain in my program for one more year before he exits the school system. Transitioning students is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of my job. With brutal honestly, I can tell you that transition doesn’t always work the way it was meant to. One of the things that I discuss with the IEP team is this: students (all students) have had about 7 hours of their day, 5 days a week, planned out for them from the time they enter school. That translates to approximately 1000 – 1080 hours per year (dependent on grade levels). I believe that is a significant amount of time, that when transitioning, should not be left out of the conversation.
There are many things that concern me when I transition students. I struggle to connect them to the seemingly-ever-dwindling services that are available to them. The issue of what will fill their time when they leave is one of the things at the top of my list. So with that, it was such a wonderful experience to watch the “system” work the way it was meant to. The team has outlined a plan to make sure we have a transition that is as seamless as possible. Yes, we have been/are addressing vocational, educational, and independent living post school outcomes. We are also addressing recreation and leisure goals. We are going to conduct some “trials” this summer. (My student has made it clear, baseball = yes; fishing = absolutely not.) I am so excited to ‘mimic’ my student’s post-school day. (As close as I can.) Imagine the anxiety and stress that it will decrease for him and his family! (Selfishly speaking, it will decrease my anxiety too.) It is such a joy to spend your day supporting the future of someone else. To me, that is the heart of what transition is.
Disclaimer: The posts on the SW WA Sped Conference Blog are written by the conference chair, Annie Lamberto. The feelings, stories, opinions, and comments are those of Annie and should not be attributed to any school district or conference committee member.