Third Thursday - Transition Planning Tools

Video Transcript

Sue Beck Transition


Hello. I'm Donna Owens. I want to welcome you to OCALI's Third Thursday. Third Thursdays is an information and training event presented by the OCALI Family Center. Each month, we will offer an hour's information and training on topics of interest to families with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. These events will be recorded and archived on the OCALI Family Center web page for your on-demand viewing at your convenience.

Future topics for our Third Thursdays include Employment First and the eight keys for effective transition planning, an introduction to assistive technology and communication, understanding sensory processing, a look at DD services across the lifespan, a framework for thinking about puberty and sexuality. Now, if you have an idea for a topic that you would like to hear us talk about here on Third Thursday, please feel free to email me at I'd like to hear from you.

Handouts for each of our presentations will be available on our website for download when you register for each of these events. And you can learn about upcoming events if you check the OCALI Family Center web page.

Tonight, we're going to hear from Sue Beck who is a consultant for Employment First here at OCALI working on improving effective transition planning services. And Sue is going to guide us through the use of some transition planning forms. These are tools that are available to help parents and their child's transition planning team participate in a transition planning process that will result in a positive outcome for the youth with a disability.

Now, this transition process, this planning process, will have to be person centered, agency neutral, and outcome focused. And I want to tell you what I mean about those three characteristics. First of all, person centered-- person centered means that the planning process focuses on the youth's interests, preferences, strengths, and needs. It focuses on the youth. It's not trying to put the youth in a particular job that's already determined, but a job that's going to be a right match for that youth's strengths and interests and needs.

It's going to be agency neutral. And what that means is that it's going to consider the supports that are available not only from the school that might be leading this transition planning process, but also it's going to consider supports that would be available from other agencies, say the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation or the County Board of Developmental Disabilities. It might also consider supports that would be available from the family or from friends who might know about an employment opportunity or an employment preparation opportunity. So it's going to look at all kind of supports that might be available for effective transition planning and preparation for this youth with a disability.

And then thirdly, this transition planning process will be outcome focused. That is that the process and the events and activities that are being planned are going to direct that youth to an outcome that has been identified by the youth and the youth's family and that transition planning team as desirable for them as a transition planning outcome. So now, I want to welcome Sue Beck. And she will teach us about some excellent transition planning tools. Thank you, Sue.

Thanks, Donna. And as Donna mentioned, this webinar is going to focus on the tools and strategies that families can use for planning for your son or daughter's transition to adult life. And these are some of the tools and strategies that we are going to look at tonight, including ideas for building a vision for your son or daughter's future, based on high expectations, for them to be successful as adults; then a plan that focuses on your child's preferences and interests and strengths; and ideas for making sure that your son or daughter is just as independent as possible; ways to work as a team with educators and others, such as adult-serving agencies that Donna mentioned earlier; and to put all this information together in a backwards plan.

And we'll look at how that works. And also, families often need information about adult-serving agencies, what their eligibility procedures are, the types of services that might be available. And we also want to talk just a little bit about evidence-based predictors and practices.

Now, one of that the handouts that you have for this webinar is a file that's called "Future Planning Tools." And we're going to look at that first. The tools are all things that we've collected from family members and from parent mentors, things that they have used in working with families. You can see that there's a variety of different types of tools. Some of them might be more appropriate for young children. But all of them provide you with a way to prepare for communicating your vision for your son or daughter's future to your son or daughter's IEP team.

What's important to think through is how you can document what your child does well, what they're interested in, the types of settings that they prefer, and what your plans are, what your expectations are for your son or daughter's future. A case study student named Jeff is going to help us illustrate how a tool might work. And you also have this in your handouts for this evening's webinar.

In this example, Jeff is about to turn 17. And when he was 14, his family started to put down their ideas about what Jeff's future might look like. And his school team then discussed those ideas. And they incorporated them into his IEP, in particular, in the future planning section of the IEP, step 1.

The family listed some of the things that Jeff does well and some of the things that he enjoys, as well as ideas about where he needed to improve his skills and his level of independence. Premature click there. They see Jeff working in a job in the community at some point. But right now, they're really not sure what kind of job that might be. And that's less important than thinking about all of the skills that are going to be necessary to hold any kind of job in the community.

And they really found it difficult to think about Jeff living out in the community on his own. So they start it really small. They start it with just thinking about next year, that he would be continuing to live with them. So after the family got some of their ideas down, they talked with the school team about these ideas. And teachers added their input as well, as this provided a nice way for them to have a discussion.

What the school said is, yeah, you know what, we see some of these very same things at school, that Jeff sometimes has trouble stopping something that he likes to do when we're trying to move him into a different activity that he needs to get busy on. And they agree that it will be important for Jeff to be able to talk with people that he doesn't know.

Everybody at the school is familiar with Jeff. He's been here with the same kids since kindergarten. But they also recognize that, out there in the world, he's going to encounter a number of different people who aren't going to be able to understand him. And the speech therapist wants to get involved in helping him with some additional communications skills.

The school team also says, you know, we really need to look deeply into what Jeff's career interests are. We know some things about his strengths. But we need to think of them in a different light. How do those strengths and preferences that we see every day in Jeff, how do they translate into a set of job skills? And the team is wondering, since Jeff is interested in tools and has some skills, if a career tech program, when he's a junior or senior, if that might be something to look into.

Mom and Dad, as we've mentioned before, they do have some concerns about Jeff ever living on his own. And the team wants to help them explore some options for him to perhaps live in a different setting than in the family home. But they want to work on maximizing his independent skills and his communication skills so that the family won't be so concerned about his safety or someone taking advantage of him or not being able to manage his money appropriately, for example.

The team thinks that Jeff is likely going to be eligible for services from adult agency. But their own knowledge about how that works is kind of fuzzy at best. And so they want to look into some additional information about what agencies do and how they work. They also know that Jeff will benefit from some actual work experiences, to get out there on the job, and that that will be a great place to be able to gather some additional data about Jeff's skills that he has now for work and about the kinds of tasks that he's most interested in.

Another tool that's in your packet is this agency table. And we want to look at that because it provides a primer for families and for professionals about what agencies do and how to assess their services. So a child who's moving into adulthood and may receive services from agencies will need to go through an eligibility process for each different agency.

And that's a little different than the kind of eligibility that we've been used to during school. The rules are different. And this will provide you some background information about the types of information that agencies would look at. So you can see these categories of information here-- age, disability, and so forth.

These are the agencies that are highlighted in the agency table. And you can see that each agency has slightly different eligibility requirements, different criteria, a different procedure for gaining eligibility. And it's important to know that being eligible for one of these agencies doesn't make you automatically eligible for any of the others. Each has their separate process.

The next page in the table reviews the types of services that might be available from an agency. The services, themselves, that an individual would gain are individually decided within the context of that individual's needs and circumstances. But in general, these are the types of services that might be available.

And then, the next page provides a place for you to record some of the information that agencies typically ask for. When you go to the Employment First website, the last column, the right-hand column on this page is typable space. You could put in that information so you've got it handy as you contact various agencies. And this page provides information about state-level agencies or federal agencies and their website. And then, the bottom half of this page is also typable space where school district or a local community could put in contact information for representatives from each of those agencies for their area.

One of the ways that a team is required to document transition planning by age 14 in the IEP is called transition assessment. You might have heard the term "age appropriate transition assessment." This is another one of the tools that can assist a team in gathering together information from multiple sources. And it's also in your handouts.

Good planning requires good data. It's the basis for any kind of plan that might unfold. And the transition assessment process involves collecting information about the youth to use in planning for services, instruction, experiences that are going to move them closer to post-school goals. Transition assessment helps to build a profile of your child that includes the youth's preferences, interests, needs, or strengths. And to help us remember those important, broad categories of information, we use the acronym PINS-- Preferences, Interests, Needs, and Skills.

Transition assessment is used to help document various types of interests-- in terms of employment settings or like indoors or outdoors, working with materials, working with people-- and occupational interests as well. Other areas important to focus on are the types of supports that a youth might need as they begin their working career, whether those supports might be short term, for example, help in finding a job, or long term, job coaching to help that youth, to help that young person stay with a job task and to make sure that they're performing at the level expected by that employer. In other words, the transition assessment process connects what the youth can do now with the skills that they're going to need for the future. It provides what we call "baseline" for skill development that's related directly to their post-school goals.

From the input about Jeff that the team pulled out of the document that we looked at earlier, "Developing a Plan for the Future," some of the ideas they have or one of Jeff's preferences is being around people. He's very friendly. He likes engaging with people, interacting with people. And he really likes to do things with his hands. His interests are in using tools. And, like many teenagers, he's also very interested in video games.

His needs include building some further skills for independence. And he's kind of lackadaisical about his hygiene and grooming and his daily living skills, even though everyone believes he can do these things on his own. And one of the concerns that they have are about some skills to transition him from one activity to another, without him being obstinate or without him delaying to get started on what he needs to do next.

His strengths are about using tools to take things apart. He can use a variety of hand tools. He understands how things are put together, so he's able to take them apart. And he often beats his older brother at video games, so they know that he's got some pretty good eye-hand coordination.

So this transition assessment process is going to look at, where is Jeff going? Where are we going long term? So that we've got a target in mind. And then, to look at, well, where is he right now in terms of the skills necessary for where he's going to end up as an adult? And then, we fill in the middle with the plans made for each year. How does the youth get there? What are the services? What are the supports, the instruction, the activity, the linkages to adult services that he's going to need?

The transition assessment guide, it's important to understand what it is and what it is not. This is a process for discussion. We use a lot of forms in education. And this is not another form. This is a process, a way to talk with the student to discuss with the team what's most important to think about in terms of the program ideas for the next year.

And it's a guide. It's not a procedure. Procedures typically go only in one direction. And you've got to complete one step before you can do the next step and so on. And that's not what this is about. This is a process. It's a guide. It's a way to have a back-and-forth discussion and dialogue.

And it's a support tool. It's not something additional to do on top of everything else that people are engaged in. But rather, it's a support to pull the information together into one place to make it more convenient, to make it more comprehensive in terms of what that youth might need.

So a foundational piece of this is to work with a multi-agency team to do this transition planning. School people know what school people know. And people who are from adult-serving agencies know what they know. And when we put our heads together in a team setting, we can share our expertise with each other to make sure that we have a much stronger plan.

Now, this does represent a change of practice. We're not accustomed to planning with a multi-agency team. And so it might take people some time to get used to that idea. It makes that information more relevant to the youth's adult outcomes, their goals for adulthood, because we're discussing ideas. We're discussing standards and criteria that are in operation in adult life and not just looking at what this kid will need to be successful in school.

And by working together with a multi-agency team, we're ensuring that the school gets the information that they need, as well as adult service partners getting the information that they need. So we've reduced duplication because we've done this together, making it not one more thing to do, but a way to use time differently so that it is more time and resource efficient.

The transition assessment planning guide includes several pages where we can focus on different facets of information about the youth, starting with, where is the youth going? What are the youth's outcomes? What do we know about them at this time? So that we can begin to build this profile by looking at some questions about the youth's preferences, interests, needs, and skills.

And then, we want to consider-- so are the ideas that we're exploring, do they seem to be a good match for what we know right now about this youth? Are there some concerns? Do we have some ideas that perhaps something else might be a better match for that youth? And then, this page allows you to just put in more questions, more ideas. It's just a place to write down our ideas about what we think this youth's future might look like.

Now, at the end of this assessment plan-- and this is the most important part, and this is a change in practice as well-- instead of just launching into a bunch of assessment, this provides the team with a map about what information needs to be collected. What are the questions that we have about Jeff? What else do we need to know? And you can see, in this example, that the first question is, well, what type of work would be a good match for Jeff? So we need to probe that further through assessment.

Some of the other questions are about his independence and about his ongoing supports, his level of independence. And so now that they've got a set of questions, people can share in collecting that information and then make a time to get back together to see, where are we now? What's the next round of information that we might need?

You know, over time, a youth might end up with several official documents from various agencies. And most agencies have these plans that start with the letter I. And their acronyms are things like an ISP, an Individual Service Plan, for folks who might be served by a county Board of Developmental Disabilities. If they're served by OOD, the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities agency, they may have an IPE, an Individual Plan for Employment. And if they're served in special education during school, we have an IEP.

But you see, none of those plans really belong to the family and the youth. Those plans belong to the agency that generated them. And they're necessary. Well, you see, a backwards plan fills that gap in thinking through what the plan for the youth is, apart from services that agencies might provide.

Now, backwards planning is a natural way that we go about planning for any big project. Let's say you're going to put a new deck on your home. Well, you've got to have some idea about what that project will involve, what it will look like at the end, so you know what to do right now. You need to know-- how big will it be, what materials will we need, what's it going to cost, are we going to do it, or do we need to hire a professional? So by having some idea about what it looks like at the end, we can make better decisions about what to do right now.

So backwards planning is just a way to think and problem solve. And in the context of working on transition, we're also going to think about that end point or where we want the youth to be, what we want them to be engaged in as an adult. The first step is to have that clear goal so that we know what our target is, what that adult outcome might look like.

So a multi-agency team is the best manager for a backwards plan, many of the same folks who may help to generate a transition plan, because it can be more comprehensive. It can include services from agencies. And backwards planning also provides us a way to have a multiple-year plan. Many of the other official I plans that we generate are only for one year or for a shorter term. By having a longer view, we can see how each of the activities need to fit in at what point in time.

A backwards plan is informal and easy to follow. There aren't any rules about the type of language that's used. And so a team who generates that plan can make sure that it makes sense for the people who are using it. And it's developed by the youth, the school, by family, and agencies. And so it belongs to the youth and the family.

Because it's not an official agency document, it can be modified, changed, started over at any point as needed. Especially when you're starting to plan with youth who are very young, as Jeff was when they started a backwards plan with him, things change over time. Kids might change their mind entirely. Or through the assessment process, you'll discover that a youth might have different interests or different talents that weren't readily noticeable at the beginning.

So we're going to use Jeff to kind of talk through what this backwards plan looks like. Again, it means starting with the end in mind. And for Jeff, we're going to look at his employment outcome. And right now, that's pretty broad, that he's going to work in the community doing something that he likes, possibly with hand tools. And you can see where that information came from, from the previous planning that they did.

And this is a multiple-year plan, with each column representing a different span of time. So Jeff's team started this plan in 2013. And they're going to continue to use this through 2019. Once the team has the youth's adult outcomes in mind, they've decided on time span for the plan, they're ready to begin looking at milestones. So to start at the end, the team needs to focus on what the youth needs to be ready to step into that post-school goal.

So some of the questions that help the team identify milestones include-- what is it that the youth will need to know? What level of independence needs to be in place? What kinds of skills, whether those are general worker skills for occupationally specific skills? And are there ongoing services and supports that Jeff will need, either formally through an agency or informally, family and friend network? And are there adult-serving agencies that need to be a part of Jeff's plan, a part of a milestone?

So for Jeff, one of the milestones that they chose by 2019 is that Jeff needs to be actively looking for a job at that point. He needs to be ready, to be looking for that job that is of interest to him. And even though they don't know what that job is, they have a pretty good idea about the types of skills that are going to be necessary for Jeff to engage in that job-seeking activity.

So then, the next step is to say, all right, in relation to Jeff actively looking for a job, where are we right now? What's our starting point? What's the youth's current knowledge or skill or ability or their status? In relation to that milestone, we'll record this information in the column at the far left.

So for Jeff, what they know now is that he's got pretty good eye-hand coordination. He uses hand tools to take things apart. But there might be an issue there because, sometimes, he'll take things apart, but he doesn't put them back together. So that's what they know so far about Jeff's particular skills. Once you've got these two end points in place-- Jeff will be actively looking for a job of his choosing and some very basic sorts of possibly marketable skills-- it's much easier to think about what goes in between. How do we move Jeff from where he is right now to where he needs to be in five more years?

Jeff's team could have chosen any of several different starting points to prepare Jeff to look for that job. But what they decided they needed to do was to think about specific types of jobs to begin exploring that in more formal ways so they can begin to think about the occupational skills that he might need. The first year of the plan, they want to work on getting more information about Jeff's PINS as related to those various occupations. And then, the following year, they want to get some experience for Jeff as a worker by thinking about types of in-school jobs that might be good for him.

The year after that, they want to make that a little more formal, do some job shadowing in actual workplaces in the community. And they think that, that next year, that he'd be ready for some job tryouts. And then, they're hoping for an internship the year before the end of this plan. So you can see that knowing where you're going, that milestone, and knowing the starting point, the current assessment, made it much easier for the team to determine what the logical sequence of activities might be to move Jeff from where he was to where he needs to be.

Now, on Jeff's plan, you can also see that there's some of the typing in red font. And that's just to demonstrate how the plan changed and modified over time. In the column about in-school jobs, they noted, through some additional assessment, that he really liked jobs where he had a chance to move around and where he could interact with people. And so they are thinking about some kind of errand job that he might be able to do around in the school. So they can collect some additional information. Does he stay on task? Does he get so engaged in talking with people that he forgets what his particular job at that point is?

As mentioned before, the backwards plan is an informal planning tool. Any services or instruction that are identified in here need to be embedded in an IEP. So for example, the idea of some job shadowing might be something that Jeff would gain through a county Board of Developmental Disabilities summer program, a life skills program. And the OOD agency, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities agency, might be able to help with those job tryouts in actual jobs in the community. And the school district would also be documenting their commitment to Jeff's plan in Jeff's IEP.

So the advantages to planning for transition include these things-- that agency personnel are involved firsthand with the youth. They get to know him or her. They can talk about the services that would be beneficial or possible for the youth. And by working together, we're reducing that duplication of effort across agencies.

Because team members are jointly developing that documentation, it's immediately useful to everyone, to the family because they can understand what the plan is, to the school because they can embed that information in the IEP, to adult services as they can authorize various services through their official agency documents. Because they've worked together, everyone is more aware about the skills that are necessary for adult living, for adult learning, and adult working. And they've created more awareness with the school team about how the agency's work and the services that adult-serving agencies might provide.

Just as a review, the tools and strategies for families to use in planning for transition from school to adult life include the importance of visioning and communicating that vision of high expectations to your school's team and to make sure that you're focusing on not what they can't do, but what they can do, what they prefer, what they're good at doing, and to actively work with your child to be just as independent as possible. And it's important to learn about agencies, what they do, and their procedures and their services.

Well, in closing, I wanted to leave you with a quote. "If we've learned anything in the last few decades it's that the ability of youth to achieve is more related to our own beliefs than it is to the severity or the complexity of a disability. Youth we work with may have limitations but they should not be the ones we impose on them by not believing in their potential or their right to succeed." Thank you.

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Third Thursday: Transition Planning Tools
April 16, 2015 - 6:30 - 7:30pm

Presenter Sue Beck will review several helpful tools to guide successful planning for your child’s transition from school to adulthood. Discover helpful tools for future planning - from the time your child enters school to when he’s ready to move on to adulthood. Learn about various agencies that offer support and services, the role of transition assessment and how to plan for it, and the use of an interagency backwards planning tool to help guide your child’s services and goals across the high school years.

Download Handouts (ZIP)

These tools are also available for download on the Ohio Employment First webpage here.

Third Thursday: Family Online Learning Series

Next: Third Thursday - Employment First and the 8 Predictors of Transition Planning Success