- Talk to your child. Your child has specific ideas about the future, and it’s important to listen to these ideas.
- Be realistic. Take your child’s ideas, abilities and interests into consideration as you help them set goals that are realistic.
- Encourage independence. Help your child explore independent situations, such as self-care, independent travel, money management and decision making.
- Gather information about services that are available to your child upon graduation from high school. Check out services available through Vocational Rehabilitation, along with other available programs. Place your child’s name on any appropriate waiting lists, and gather information about guardianship and conservatorship, when needed.
- Build self-esteem. Demonstrate your confidence in your child’s ability to achieve with appropriate supports. Your confidence will send a positive message to your child.
- Encourage friendships with peers. Help your child find activities that will appeal to their interests, while fostering friendships.
- Provide real-life experiences. Students with disabilities need to feel connected to the community. Provide the opportunity for your child to participate in activities such as recreation, church and youth organizations.
- Encourage good grooming, hygiene and positive work habits.
- Help your child learn how to handle criticism. To function independently, youth need to be able to accept criticism with grace—even when it seems unfair.
Questions to Consider
There are many things to consider as you and your child prepare for your next IEP meeting. This is an opportunity to discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas in which they may require additional support or information. This also is an opportunity to identify specific goals as your child prepares for the future.
Consider the following areas:
- Employment. This may include full-time or part-time positions, or special programs that offer close supervision or support.
- Education. This covers everything from college and community college courses to vocational or on-the-job training.
- Recreation. Think about your child’s interests as you consider opportunities for independent, group or community activities.
- Transportation. This might include private or public transportation, as well as supported programs.
- Social/Interpersonal Skills. Talk to your child about important skills, such as making friends, setting goals, getting along with others, communicating needs appropriately and managing anger.
- Health/Personal Management. Talk to your child about safety, hygiene, medications, money management and time management.