Transition-Planning Timeline: 14-17

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Age 14-17

By the time a student turns 14 ½, a transition plan is developed as part of the IEP. This is an exciting time as students begin to explore their interests and develop a vision for adult life. Here are some items that students, families, and schools should address during the teen years:


develop transition plan with iep team

The transition plan is the plan for your child’s future after after he or she graduates or ages out of school. This plan includes assessments, long term goals, course of study, the steps to work towards the long-term goals, and a plan for getting home-based supports if appropriate.

  • Transition Assessments: gather information from you, your child, and the educational staff who work with your child. This information is used to guide the rest of the transition plan. Assessments can be formal or informal and may include a parent/ family interview or questionnaire, input from your child, and evaluations by your child’s educational team.
  • Post-Secondary Goals are written for when your child graduates or ages out of school. A goal must be developed for post-school employment, education or training, and independent living. These goals will be updated at least every year, so it’s okay if they change over time. 
  • The course of study is the multi-year list of classes that the team plans for your child to take in school to help him or her meet post-secondary goals. 
  • The transition services/ coordinated set of activities includes the steps that will be taken to work toward your child’s post-secondary goals. This covers what will be done this school year and who is responsible for carrying out that step. The activities can include instruction, related services, community experiences, development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, acquisition of independent living skills, functional vocational evaluation, and/or linkages to after graduation supports and services.
  • The home-based support services section of the transition plan addresses the plan for determining eligibility for DHS-funded adult services and a plan for how to best use the services after completing school. 

To read more about transition planning, check out the article “Why a Transition Plan?” from Autism Speaks


student participates in iep planning and meeting

This is a great time to get your child involved in the IEP and transition planning process if you haven’t already. Students can participate in their IEP at any age, but it’s even more important when transition planning begins. Students with transition plans (8th graders or students 14+) are required by Illinois law to be invited to their meetings, though they are not required to attend. Sometimes students attend the entire meeting, come for a small portion, or don’t attend at all. There are many ways for your child to participate in the process including choosing photos of what they've worked on that they or their teacher would present at the meeting, introducing IEP team members, presenting their new goals, providing their input on their post-secondary goals, and even leading the meeting.


promote independence in choice-making, communication and daily living skills

Transition planning should include development of the skills your child will need as an adult. You can support your child by increasing responsibilities at home, promoting independence in self care, encouraging communication, and helping your child build self-advocacy skills.

For more information about teaching self-advocacy skills, including making choices, look at the “Self-Advocacy” section of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit


consider employment interests, strengths, and needs

In addition to developing a long term employment goal as part of the transition plan, your child should be exploring vocational strengths and interests during the high school years. For younger high school students this may include participating in jobs around the classroom or school and completing interest inventories to assess their career preferences. As students progress through high school, they may continue to develop their vocational skills and refine their interests by visiting potential job sites, participating in job try-outs, or participating in volunteer work, job training, or paid employment in the community. This is also a good time to think about the amount of support your child will need at a future job.

Types of employment for adults with disabilities:

  • Competitive employment - employment in the community for a competitive wage with the same benefits as other workers without disabilities
  • Supported employment - employment in the community with supports like job coaching to obtain and/or maintain employment 
  • Customized employment - a process of creating a job that matches the job seeker’s individual interests, strengths, and needs and the needs of an employer
  • Self-employment - an individual with a disability owning their own business
  • Sheltered work - long term employment with other people with disabilities in a sheltered setting where supervision and training are provided, may be paid at less than minimum wage

Note: There may be some overlap in these types of employment and differences in how organizations define each type.

For more details on the different types of employment, take a look at “Employment Models – What Option Is Best for You?” from Autism Speaks


explore adult living, vocational, and day programs

Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the adult service options that may be available for your child. While most of these services can’t be accessed until an individual is at least 18, becoming aware of the individual’s needs and preferences is an important step in planning. Some programs and services are paid for by state funding, while other options must be paid for by the individual.

Adult residential options

Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA): a living arrangement in a group home, family home or apartment with 8 or less unrelated adults with disabilities, funded by a Medicaid Waiver

Intermediate Care Facility for the Developmentally Disabled (ICF-DD): a residential facility funded by Medicaid serving adults with intellectual disability who require ongoing treatment and training, this category includes large, private, state-funded facilities.

Living in own home or family home: state-funded supports may be available to individuals who continue to live with their family or rent or buy their own home

Day and Vocational Options

DHS/DD Day Programs: State-funded services for people with developmental disabilities.

Description of the day services offered through DHS: www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=52664

  • Developmental training - day programs that focus on building skills and independence, may include volunteering or job training, but not paid work.
  • Supported Employment (see employment section and DHS website for more information)
  • Regular Work / Sheltered Employment (see employment section and DHS website for more information)
  • Private Pay Programs full or partial day programs that include life skills, vocational training, and/or leisure opportunities for individuals with disabilities that are paid for by the participant rather than by state funding, Some DHS funded programs may also accept private pay participants.
  • Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services: http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=29737 (Note: These services are typically best for individuals who have the potential to eventually work competitively without ongoing supports.)
  • College programs for people with intellectual disabilities: Post-secondary education programs designed for students with intellectual disabilities, often located on college campuses.
    • For more information and to search for programs by state, visit Think College.

obtain state id card

Individuals with certain disabilities, such as autism, can qualify for a free Illinois Person with a Disability Identification Card that is valid for 10 years. This can be used both as an identification card and proof of a disability. To obtain this card, the individual must provide both proof of identity and proof of disability. The applicant must provide documents that show written signature, date of birth, and social security number. He or she must also have a physician complete an application form to document the disability.


stay in touch with pas/isc, update puns annually

Part of your child’s future plan may include services from the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) such as respite care, residential placement, or day programming. If you haven’t already, contact your local Pre-Admission Screening (PAS) agency to determine your need for current or future services. If you have already completed the PUNS process for your child, make sure that you are in touch with your PAS agent at least every year or more often as your child’s needs change.

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 check out the DHS PUNS Program Brochure