The success of transition to secondary school will be supported by the knowledge you have gained about potential schools, the planning done and familiarisation of the environment. Inherent with this transition will be the added complexity of adolescence. Teenagers will be wanting a degree of independence at this time and parents will need to adjust to this while providing support for their teen. This is no different for the teen with an Intellectual Disability. What needs to be considered is the level of the Intellectual Disability, mild, moderate or severe and which secondary environment is going to best meet your son/daughter’s needs; a specialist school or a high school.
In thinking about the transition process there are a number of things to consider, here are a few;
- What level of independence does your teenager have
- Will they be able to get to school independently
- If attending a high school will the teen with an ID manage the structure of the timetable
- Will they be able to independently manage their way around the school to different classrooms
- Have the school to provide a map and identify the buildings and classrooms where specific things on the timetable are located as this will help
- High school students usually use lockers, will son/daughter with ID be able to manage this
- When required, how can parents communicate with the school – phone, email, face to face
- Can the teen be allocated a ‘go to’ person if they are experiencing difficulty
- If the teen is attending a specialist ID school does the school operate in the same as a high school
In supporting your teenagers’ need for independence it is now very important for them to self- manage the transition process as much as possible. The following points maybe helpful things that you can do with your teenager to help them to manage the transition to secondary school:
- Work out how they are going to get to school, this may mean practicing the travel route in the school holidays to prepare them for independent travel
- Make sure the teen has a daily routine to help them to transfer these skills to school
- Help them to understand how to manage their workload and understand their timetable
In managing transitions for teenagers with ID, begin to do it with them and then fade your support and move in and out to provide support when necessary. It is important that they use these secondary years of schooling to gain as much confidence and independence as possible. For more assistance with this take a look at our Transition Checklist for Secondary School. The skills learnt now will further develop their independence in readiness for post school employment or other pathways.