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Integrated Transition Planning for youth with disabilities is a path to living a full, meaningful, and connected life as a community member. It means planning for what will change as your child becomes an adult. Every child is different, so all the ideas might not be right for your family. This fact sheet helps families start planning for their child’s transition to adult life and how they can be fully engaged in their community.
Imagine Their Best Life As your child prepares for adulthood, think broadly about their future. Together you can think about health, leisure activities, culture, learning, friends, employment, housing, faith, and more.
Take a minute to dream about your child’s best life as an adult. What do you imagine?
Where Do I Begin?
Learn What Makes Your Child Happy
Pay attention to the things that interest your child and what they like to share with friends, family and teachers. Talk with them about what makes their day a good day. Then use these ideas to find opportunities to get involved in their community.
Ask for Support
You don’t have to figure this out alone! There are a lot of professionals that have information to complete this puzzle with you. If your child is enrolled in long-term care, ask their service coordinator about community supports for adults. Connect with your local Independent Living Centers, your child’s high school special education or IEP team, and when your child is age 17 ½, contact your county Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC).
You Have Time
Transition is important but you don’t need a complete picture of your child’s plan immediately. Take the time to think about all of the puzzle pieces mentioned in this fact sheet. And know that your child will continue to grow and develop new interests along the way. When this happens, revisit these areas and add or change their schedule when it makes sense and contributes to their overall well-being.
Information and Resources
Arc Wisconsin and Arc Chapters offer adults with disabilities education and social programs. arcwi.org
Family Voices What’s After High School is a learning session on the transition process from a family perspective. familyvoiceswi.org/learn/whats-after-high-school
Future Planning is creating a guide for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD) to lead a good life as independently as possible. futureplanning.thearc.org/pages/learn/future-planning-101
Healthy, Safe, and Connected is a toolkit that offers simple ways to be sure you know how to do all three. wi-bpdd.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Healthy_Safe_Connected_V08.22.pdf
Pacer Center has resources and links to learn about independence and community living. pacer.org/transition/learning-center/independent-community-living/
Pieces of the TRANSITION Puzzle
Health and Wellness
Think about adaptive fitness programs, sports leagues or other ways to get regular exercise.
Start: Special Olympics Wisconsin programs offer fun ways to connect with others and stay active.
Leisure Activities and Community Connections
Your local YMCA or recreation department may offer clubs, arts and crafts, and adaptive programming. Public libraries, service clubs and local charities plan activities or volunteer opportunities.
Start: Visit your community or local government’s website.
Culture and Arts
Many communities have local theaters, museums and art centers with discounted tickets, free performances, or other programs that adults can participate in with others in the community.
Start: Go to you community art center’s website.
Colleges across the state have disabled student programs and services for students to request accommodations. Some universities have post-secondary programs for students with intellectual and learning disabilities on campus.
Start: See Midwest Inclusive Post Secondary Alliance (MIPSA) or thinkcollege.net websites.
Courses for cooking, money management, and staying healthy and safe are good options for everyone. There are online and in-person courses.
Jobs let you meet new people, learn new skills and ideas, and connect you to the community. Your child’s interests and skills can guide them to a job that is the best fit.
Start: Read Before Age 18: Employment Planning.
If your child wants to move out of your home as an adult, there are options like living independently with support, with friends or other adults.
Start: Contact your county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) when your child is 17 ½ to learn about community-supported living and other housing options.
Is your child registered to vote? If your family has guardianship your child can still keep their voting rights. If your child wants to be politically active, try taking part in the annual Disability Advocacy Day or join a chapter of People First Wisconsin.
Spirituality and Faith
Your adult child can stay involved or become connected to a house of faith or spiritual community. Many faith communities offer activities, outings and clubs to get to know other members.
Start: Your house of faith may have a website with event information. If not, drop by their offices.
Relationships and Sexuality
Like their peers, your child might want to date, find a long-term partner, or even get married. Resources are available to learn about healthy and respectful relationships.