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What is Transition?

“Transition is the process occurring during the four to six years (or longer) before the student leaves school. Parents, students and school personnel and other agencies must determine what the educational system will do to make the move as seamless as possible. This process involves developing transition goals and objectives as part of the Individualized Educational Program for students in Special Education.” [1]

Planning Timeline

Key Milestones by Age:

To Consider at Any Age

  • Is my child eligible for Supplemental Security Income Benefits(SSI)?
  • Is my child receiving service coordination services (case management) through the DDDS?
  • Is my child involved with Recreation/leisure activities?
  • Are medical counseling needs being addressed?
  • Is my child increasing his or her responsibilities at home?
  • Has a determination been made about Guardianship, if needed?
  • Is my child learning self-advocacy skills?

For additional preparation, see Family Preparation for Transition from the Gretchen Everhart School

By age 12

  • Begin to collect information on Waiver funding and possible services from the DDDS (if eligible)
  • Begin to explore employment interests, aptitudes, and abilities
  • Continue to explore, assess, and teach self-help, activities of daily living (ADL) skills
  • Continue to develop communication and social skills
  • State Photo ID may be obtained for child as young as 10
  • Begin Person-Centered Futures Planning

By age 14

By age 15

  • Set up Special Needs Trust
  • Explore work, residential and leisure options
  • Assess and determine eligibility for adult services

By age 16

  • Identify employment interests and skills the student can use in a career
  • School assesses student in transition with focus on adult outcomes
  • IEP meeting must also include any involved agencies to discuss future
  • Include activities such as career exploration, job sampling
  • Begin to identify community services that provide job training placement and other community resources
  • Consider volunteer experiences
  • Discussion and writing of the criteria for graduation (either school district requirements or the completion of the IEP)
  • Begin to gather information regarding guardianship, health care proxy, and emancipation
  • Determine need for Financial Support; Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, state financial supplemental programs
  • Identify health care providers

Age 16-18

  • Examine social security benefits
  • Collect information about Residential or Independent Living services List of Providers
  • Apply to Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) for services if appropriate
  • Transportation: use of public transportation, travel training, ride sharing, driver’s license training if appropriate.

Age 17-18

  • Parents address legal issues of guardianship, health care proxy and emancipation
  • Continue to update transition plan
  • Have student visit colleges/career training schools if appropriate (see Going to College).

Age 18

  • Male students register with Selective Service
  • Register to vote by downloading an application at Delaware Voting
  • Parents review health insurance (private or Medicaid)
  • Apply or recertify for Social Security Benefits
  • Apply for financial support programs (Vocational Rehabilitation, independent living services, personal assistant services)

Age 18-21

  • Continue to review and update transition plan
  • Prepare resume and/or portfolio
  • Visit programs that may provide vocational or other services for the student after high school ends
  • A notice will be given one year before the child reaches the age of majority (21 years old in Delaware) informing the student and parents of his/her IDEA rights, and that they will transfer from the adult to the child.

See Also: Organization for Autism Research's Broad Timeline for Middle School and High School for Vocational Planning


  1. Transition: The Bridge to Adult Living. York, PA: Parent Education Network, 2000