Beyond School

Transition planning for students with ASD should begin by 14-16 years of age. Transition plans should address issues such as self-advocacy, self-management, job training, and behavior and emotional management plans if necessary. IDEA lists four components that should make up a transition plan. These components are:

  • Outcome-oriented: goals need to be established in a clear and measureable way.
  • Student-centered: personal interests and skills of the student need to be considered and used.
  • Broad-based: a spectrum of non-school related subjects needs to be planned for, such as community interaction, job and vocational training, independent living skills, etc.
  • A working document: outlines all goals and objectives, measurements, and strategies to accomplish goals and objectives. This should document should undergo revisions over time, usually once per year.

Assessments from the student’s support team should be conducted in making these transition plans. The student’s support team can consist of a number of professionals, including general education teacher, special education teacher, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, vocational rehabilitation specialist, psychologist, support coordinator, disability advocate, family members, and the student. It is extremely important, and highly recommended, that family members and the student be involved in the planning process.

Family and Student Involvement

Parents and siblings spend the most time with the student. Even the most highly educated professional is not going to know as much as the family members regarding the needs and abilities of the student. Likewise, the student should know their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their personal desires and ambitions in life (if the student doesn’t, then current and previous IEPs have missed the mark). Including, therefore, the family and student in the transition plans gives professionals appropriate directions to follow. The student will also be more likely to follow the plans if included in the decision process.

Adult Placement

Adults with ASD either live at home, in a treatment center, or a group home. Those who live at home or in a group home will typically attend a day program, a job, or a combination of the two. As a parent, it is important to check the qualifications of any company before using their services. Some companies employ professionals with high levels of education and pass that training down to lower level employees. However, you will also find companies that are the exact opposite. Always check the qualifications of those managing the company, and the training they provide their staff, before you decide on their services.

Transition Plans as an Adult

Nothing should change in terms of how plans are created and executed as the student gets older. A parent should expect and demand the same level of professionalism in the formation of a plan for their 32 year old child as they would their 16 year old child. Community professionals should collaborate with school system professionals in the development of plans when questions arise. Similarly, school system professionals should collaborate with community professionals to better understand with what adults with ASD are currently having success or failure.


Jacobsen, P. (2014). The education team: positive, effective interdisciplinary collaboration. In K. D. Buron & P. Wolfberg,Learners on the Autsim Spectrum: Preparing Highly Qualified Educators and Related Practitioners (2nd ed., pp. 83-105). Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Meyer, S. M. (2004). Survival guide for the beginning speech-language clinician (2nd. ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-ed.

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