Table of Contents
Over the course of many years, in order to appropriately educate all students, it became necessary to identify the youth that learn differently and to establish eligibility criteria for specially designed instruction, services and supports. Legislation now exists to assure youth with disabilities have access to the supports needed to progress towards achievement of meaningful adult life goals. This legislation also outlines the processes used to establish eligibility to receive 'special education'. Many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) fit this criteria and, therefore, may be eligible or entitled to supports, services and/or special education while in school.
The major legislative mandate that supports the structure of school-based transition services is Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004. This Federal legislation is an entitlement program, meaning that by law all students with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).
IDEIA of 2004 identifies specific transition requirements for students beginning at age 16 and provides general guidance for transition teams related to the content of transition plans. However, Ohio law goes beyond Federal law and mandates transition services to begin earlier, at the age of 14. IDEIA 2004 also added a requirement that transition services be based on the student's strengths, as well as their preferences and interests. The addition of strengths makes it clear that the transition plan should focus and build on what the student can do and not focus solely on what the student can not do.
Purpose of Education
According to this IDEIA, the major purpose of FAPE and special education is to prepare children with disabilities for "further education, employment, and independent living.This powerful law states directly, with no exceptions, that the intent of a student's educational career is to prepare him/her to succeed in adult life!