How to Teach Your Special Needs Teen Transitional Skills at Home

A special needs teenage boy picking out produce at the grocery store; one of a few transitional skills his parents are teaching him at home.

What are Transitional Skills and Why are they Important?

Transitional skills are any life skills you need to transition to an independent adult. These are necessary for such things as: 

  • Post-secondary education
  • Employment
  • Paying Bills

Of course, these can look different for every child based on their needs and wants after graduation. However, it is essential to help your child learn the skills they will need to be independent, or as independent as possible, upon high school completion.  

What is your goal for your child as they transition?

First, you need to think about the goals you and your teen have.  

  • Do you want your child to go to college? 
  • Would your child prefer a technical or trade school?
  • Do they prefer to get a job right after high school? 
  • Do you want them to be able to live independently? 


There are so many options and opportunities that your teen will have as they transition into adulthood. Your goal should push your child to their full potential but not expect unattainable goals. These set kids up for failure, and you want them to be successful.  

For example, I know that my own oldest child will not be a traditional four-year university student. However, I still want to push him to go into a trade or attend a technical school to find something that he loves doing and help set him up to be a successfully independent adult.


How to Decide Which Transitional Skills to Focus On? 

We all know the pandemic has affected not only our lives but transition opportunities for our children. Unfortunately, students had limited access and experiences outside of school due to the constraints of the pandemic in most geographical areas.

Want One-On-One Expert Help?!



Find A Tutor TODAY!

As a result, many students could not get the community experiences that help them learn skills as they transition out of high school, and parents have to pick up the slack.  

The big question is, how do you prioritize and focus on what you need to work on with your child? Use the checklist below, find out what areas they struggle with most, and work on those skills!

Transitional Skills Checklist

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has this Life Skills Inventory. This could be an excellent tool to help parents understand how prepared their child is for independent living in many areas.   

It also allows you to see how proficient they are in those areas and can lead to conversations with your child’s IEP team on what they need to be working on as part of their transition plan.

What Transitional Skills Can You Teach Your Teens at Home?

You can do many things to help your child work toward independence, whether they have special needs or are typical achieving individuals!  

Here is a list of transitional skills you can have your teen do to increase or improve their independence.

#1 Meal Plan and Grocery Shopping

    • Allow them to find all the groceries.
    • Give them cash and use the dollar-up method.
    • You can make this more challenging by having them stick to a budget!

#2 Make Their Own Appointments

  • Doctor appointments
  • Dentist appointments
  • Scheduling College Tours
  • Hair appointments


#3 Apply for Jobs Applications 

  • Have him request applications from places you regularly go to and places your child is interested in.  
  • Then practice filling out those job applications.


#4 Help Him Memorize His Personal Information Through Repetition 

  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Social security number


#5 Prepare for Driving

  • Get the driver’s manual 
  • Quiz him to help him prepare to get his permit


#6 Show Him How to Use Public Transportation

  • Bus, train, subway, etc. 
  • Have him practice finding his way to different places


#7 Practice Personal Finance Skills

  • Get a tax form and have him practice filling it out.
  • Set up a checking or savings account and have him budget and track his expenses
  • Teach him to count change
  • Have him order for himself in a restaurant or fast food place


Additional Transitional Skills Resources 

The above list is short, but the ideas are endless. Having your child participate in your everyday tasks as an adult will help foster their independence as they become adults and citizens in our society, regardless of the setbacks of the pandemic. It is also never too early to start with transitional skills!

If you need help with your teen transitioning from high school into college or work life, we’re here for you! Take a look at the additional resources for your special needs teen. 

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!


A special needs teenage boy picking out produce at the grocery store; one of a few transitional skills his parents are teaching him at home.
Preparing to transition into adult life starts before graduation here’s how to teach your special needs teen transitional skills at home.

Picture of Michelle Gregg

Michelle Gregg

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

blog form headline-2 special ed resources