Q:     What is meant by the term “Transition”?      

A: Let’s face it.  Transition is part of life.  For us and for our children.  We move from one season of life to the next.  This means a new perspective, and the need for new skills and new relationships.

In special education, the term “Transition” refers to a specific process of getting ready for life after IEPs.

Federal special education law (IDEA) requires that the transition process begin by age 16.  In some states, the age is 14.  The process can begin earlier if the team so chooses.

IDEA transition requirements include:

  • Transition assessment (of student’s interests and skills in relation to future plans)
  • Setting future goals for Postsecondary Education, Employment and, Independent Living
  • Planning skill instruction needed to prepare for post-high school goals
  • Planning activities and supports to prepare for these future goals
  • Connecting students with agencies and resources they’ll need for life after high school

This is the student’s future we’re talking about.  Teens must be actively involved in the transition process.  They need meaningful experiences to explore their interests, understand their own skills, learn about opportunities, make plans, and take action on their own behalf.

Often, students change their future goals as they gain knowledge and experience.  This is true for all teens. Future plans should be based on real information about the student’s interests and the skills needed for success.

New resources are becoming available all the time to support students and families to plan for the future.  Many of these resources can be found in the Free Transition Tools section of this site.  The key is to determine which resources best meet your child’s particular needs.  It’s important to discern which skills and supports are the highest priority for your child and your family.  Working together with school and agency staff is essential.

Q:     When should I start to think about life after IEPs?

A: Short answer?   Now.

No matter how old your child is.

The very purpose of  all K-12 education is to prepare kids for life after high school.

And as parents, we need to consider all our child’s needs (health, social, financial, legal), in addition to education, as we plan for the future.

Whatever your child’s age may be, resources on this site will be helpful.

And even if your child is young, begin now to ask yourself and the rest of the IEP team:

  • What are the skills most crucial for my child’s success as an adult?
  • How can my child best learn these skills and then practice them in various environments?
  • What agencies and community connections can support my child’s progress toward a full and self-determined adult life?

Q:     My young adult child isn’t ready for life after IEPs!

A: You’re not alone.

Many young people, with and without disabilities, lack skills and resources to meet their goals after high school. This can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety and depression.  For kids and parents.

You and your child can create positive momentum by making choices based on the best available information and taking solid steps toward specific goals. While developing relationships with others along the way.

You’ll find helpful information and resources on this site.

But it’s also really important to build supportive relationships with people and agencies in your local community. (see “Where to Start?).

Remember your child is entitled to special education through age 21 if the IEP team decides this is needed to prepare for post-high school goals.  Special education services do not have to take place in a school building.

Until your child “ages out” of special education, you can work with your school district to plan meaningful community-based instruction that prepares your son or daughter for employment, post secondary education and community living.

Q:     Is this site connected to some sort of organization?

A: This site is not connected to any organization.  It was created by me.  Mary Mazzoni.

Q:     Do you have credentials?  Should I trust you?

A: Excellent questions!  Choices should be based on data.  Here’s some information.

My Master of Education degree in Developmental Disabilities is from the University of New Hampshire.  I’ve taken many postgraduate courses over the years and am a certified special education teacher. I intentionally keep current with applied research to understand practices that are most effective in teaching specific skills and supporting kids with particular needs in various environments.

For more than 30 years, I’ve conspired with kids, parents, schools, agencies, colleges and  businesses to design programs that prepare kids for the future they desire. Currently, I lead a five-year demonstration project funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council.

I present workshops at state and national conferences.  Since 2003, I’ve been providing transition-related training and consultation for school districts, agencies and IEP teams. I’m also aunt and mentor to several young people with diverse gifts, disabilities and passions.  They keep me real.

I believe in grace – and am inspired by the unique giftedness of every person.  I’m amazed by what happens when people really work together.

Genuine collaboration is damn hard work.  Especially when we truly honor the personhood  of the individual we’re supporting.  It demands the very best we have to offer.  Including, for starters – mutual respect, shared goals, creativity, perseverance, courage, forgiveness, and humor.  Some days, we’re just not up to it.  But we can encourage each other to try again tomorrow.  We’ll be grateful for the fruit our effort brings in our kids’ lives.  And in our own.

Hope this helps you know a little more about me.  Thanks for asking.

Want more details about my credentials and professional experience? Here’s my Linkedin profile.

Anything you’d like to share or ask?  Please do!

Click the white envelope in the sidebar to send me an email.

There’s joy on the journey! Let’s travel together.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin April 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

This page indicates that students are entitled to sped services until they are 21. My understanding is that they are entitled to services until they have the skills necessary to achieve their post school goals or are 21 whichever comes first. Can you address this conflicting information.


Mary Mazzoni May 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks for your comment, Kristin.
When a student with an IEP graduates before age 21, it is because the IEP team (including the student and the family) has determined that the student has the skills needed for his or her post school goals.


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