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Son Isn't Ready to Graduate
Q: My son is a senior at a vocational school. He was diagnosed with ADHD before his second birthday and he also has LD. He has been in learning and emotional support classes since halfway through first grade. I feel he's not ready to graduate and he agrees. We met with "the powers that be" at his school and they say he is ready to graduate and there's nothing more they can do for him. I feel like he's just being pushed out because they don't want to bother with him anymore. He's falling through the cracks. Any suggestions?
A: There certainly is something they can do for him. In fact, if they don't they are in violation of Federal Law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that beginning no later than age 16, each student must also have included in the IEP a statement of the transition services that he needs in order to prepare for post-school outcomes. These include employment, postsecondary education, adult services, independent living, and community participation.
In the past, IEPs were designed to cover services for a year. Now that transition services are required, planning looks at life after high school, and may even involve coordinated planning with adult service and community agencies.
The IDEA formally defines transition services as "...a coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation." If necessary, the schools must provide a functional vocational evaluation in preparation for transition to work.
Providing these services takes time and the commitment of a school system. But remember, it's not a choice -- it's the law.
For a comprehensive explanation of transition planning, visit the website of the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) at http://www.nichcy.org/pubs/newsdig/nd21txt.htm#17.
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Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.