Transition-Planning Timeline - Prior to age 14

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Prior to age 14

You don’t have to wait until your child enters high school or turns 14 to begin transition planning. These are some things that schools and families can start at any age to begin preparing for the transition to adulthood for individuals with severe autism:


explore special recreation

Special recreation activities can provide students with autism opportunities for fun, exercise, and skill development.  Younger students can begin to explore interests now that can become lifelong adult leisure and recreation activities.  Many communities offer recreation and leisure opportunities for children and adults with disabilities, both within and outside of their community boundaries.

Special Recreation Programs:

Camps and Respite Weekends:

For More Resources:


Develop self-care routines and assign chores

Helping your child to learn self-care and daily living skills now (e.g. brushing teeth, showering, doing laundry) will prepare him/her be more independent as an adult.  Assigning simple chores at home, like taking out the trash or loading the dishwasher, will get your child ready for future work opportunities.  Strategies such as creating a consistent routine and using visual supports (e.g. picture schedule) can help your child be successful in learning new skills.  Your child’s teacher can provide support in this area and help you identify skills that your child is ready to practice at home.


complete puns

Now or in the future you child may need services from the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) such as respite care, residential placement, or day programming.  There is a process to get a on the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) list to receive funding for these services. Even if you do not think your child will need these services right away, it is important to begin this process now. Contact your Pre-Admission Screening (PAS) agency to complete a PUNS questionnaire to determine your need for current or future services (e.g. respite, in-home supports, group home).  Once you complete the PUNS process, check in with your PAS agent to update your information at least once a year or if your child’s needs change significantly.

To locate your local PAS agency: 

  • Online: Use the DHS Office Locator (select Developmental Disability Services from the dropdown menu): 
  • By phone: Call the automated number for local DD service information: 1-888-DDPLANS

To learn more about PUNS


explore ssi

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to individuals with disabilities with little or no income.  For children with disabilities under age 18, family income is considered.  In order to receive SSI, you will need to file an application and provide documentation of eligibility.


get a social security card

Your child may need a Social Security number to get a paid job, get Social Security benefits, and receive other government benefits or services.  Banks or credit companies may also require a Social Security number.  A Social Security card can be presented to show your child’s Social Security number.

To learn more about Social Security numbers and cards:

Visit the Social Security website


consider estate planning + special needs trust

There are steps that parents and family members can take now to prepare for the future when they are no longer there to care for an individual with a disability.  Careful planning can help to ensure that your child is well cared for and has financial security.  There are special considerations in future planning and estate planning for individuals with disabilities.

Now or as an adult, your child may receive needs-based government benefits such as SSI, Medicaid, or Medicaid waiver services (e.g. CILA, adult day program).  In order to qualify for these benefits, the individual must have assets or income below a certain level, and benefits may be jeopardized if the individual receives an inheritance, personal injury settlement, or large financial gift.  A special needs trust can be set up to supplement government benefits without disqualifying the individual from receiving benefits.  

For more information, check out the resources below: