The First Step in Transition Planning for Special Education Students

Young man with backpack standing in front of other high school students getting off a school bus from taking the first step in transition planning for special education students.

For many of us, life began after graduation from high school. It is no different for special needs children. Unfortunately, for many parents, transition planning for special education students can be an overwhelming process.

There are so many factors that you need to consider when going through this process. The first step in planning is assessments and interest surveys.


Why Use Assessments and Interest Surveys for Transition Planning? 

It is essential to have ongoing discussions about all of these opportunities available to them because it’ll allow your child to feel confident about which path they would like to take. 

These assessments and surveys will help identify their: 

  • Strengths
  • Skills
  • Abilities
  • Interests
  • Preferences
  • Dislikes

When Does Transition Planning for Special Education Students Begin? 

We need to be extra vigilant that our children are on the right path and that they have a voice in the transition planning process. The transition process begins in middle and high school. 

Assessments and interest surveys aim to capture a student’s strengths and interests. 

For example, I once asked a middle school student what he wanted to do after high school. He said he wanted to become a basketball player. So I pushed him and asked what he would do if that were not possible. 

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He responded that then he would become a football player. So many students (especially successful high school athletes) hope this will become a reality. But it is our job to propose alternate pathways and occupations. 

Areas to Consider in Transition Planning for Special Education Students

There are six key areas to consider in the assessments and surveys. You need to ask your child questions about each area to get a complete picture for planning their post-secondary transition.  

#1 Education

Would you prefer two years, four years, or a technical education? Fortunately, it has become abundantly clear that not everyone needs to become a doctor or a lawyer during the pandemic. I found this great comparison between two and four-year colleges

Individuals with trade skills were essential, frontline workers during this time. For example, do you want to be an electrician, plumber, or carpenter? These are all highly critical professions. Here is a Career Interest Survey your child can take to get ideas of what to look into. 


#2 Residence

Where will you live? Do you want to live:

  • At home
  • On-campus
  • In an apartment off-campus

 What can you afford? Do you need to be near a school because you do not have transportation?

#3 Independent living skills

 Post-secondary school is demanding. Will you be able to complete your studies while also tackling domestic responsibilities? 

Can you do your own: 

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Take care of yourself

#4 Employment

  • Will you work while attending college? 
  • Did you work during high school? 
  • Would you like to continue through post-secondary school? 
  • Will you be able to handle working and your courses?


#5 Transportation

  • How will you get to school? 
  • Do you have a car? 
  • Is public transportation available? 
  • Is it safe to use a bicycle in the area?


#6 Recreation

What do you like to do for fun? You can’t just go to school and work. You need to have fun during your free time. What do you want to do? Are the resources available in the area to pursue those interests?


Additional Transition Planning Resources 

This is just the beginning of the transition process for special education students. Still, it is an essential step and forms the pathway to ensure our students become productive, successful, and self-sufficient members of society.

Both parents and educators can use this information to decide what opportunities are appropriate for each student.

If you need help figuring out how best to plan for a future transition from high school into college or work life, we’re here for you! Check out some of these other resources for your special needs child. 

Here are additional resources you may find helpful in transition planning: 


Do you have a child that needs one on one assistance?  

We offer one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere the student is! Why? Because our special education experts conduct their sessions online!

Get started with a free consultation today!



Young man with backpack standing in front of other high school students getting off a school bus from taking the first step in transition planning for special education students.
Transition planning for special education students is a process that takes time. It’s not something to be done at the last minute. Start here

Picture of Colleen Gallagher

Colleen Gallagher

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