This timeline is a guide for parents of students with disabilities who are moving through the current school system.  It is suggested that, no matter what age your child is currently, you should go through the checklist from the elementary age.  Many of the suggested activities overlap and are processes that are ongoing throughout the transition stages.  As an example, positive human relationships and good social skills at home and school.  These traits need to develop along with the changing ages of the child, but are not listed at each level of transition.  Please be aware that learning what options are available for your child are important at every level.  You are your childís best advocate.

Elementary School Age

Introduce the concept of work into everyday activities.

Students should become familiar with all types of careers.

Develop self-care and daily living skills and routines.
Focus on human relationships and develop good social skills at home and school.
Explore vocational opportunities at the upper grade levels and beyond that are available.
Make your child a productive part of the household, introduce chores and an allowance.
Explore self-advocacy information and community advocacy organizations that are available.  You might need additional support at some point in time.
Ensure that accessibility issues or adaptive equipment (i.e. communication, wheelchairs) needs are being addressed.)
Request information on Public Law 105-17, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and regulation updates.  These are good resources.


Middle School Age


Begin Career Exploration, watch movies, read books, go to work with adults, etc.

Support the teacherís efforts to provide job training as part of the school program.

Find out the types of education program options such as inclusion, vocational, combination, etc.
At home parents can also help their children explore careers by chores around the house, volunteering in the community and participating in community service projects.


14 Year Old



Parents should participate in a NEXT STEPS program or ask about a Transition program for parents.

Attend a Transition Planning Committee (TPC) meeting for your area.

See that vocational training is built into your childís IEP (Individual Education Plan).
Explore recreation and leisure interests.
Attend every IEP meeting or have your input known.
Find out how funding sources (e.g. Department of Human Services), Case Coordination Agencies (e.g. PACT, Inc.) and financial assistance programs (e.g. Social Security) can benefit you.
Efforts for transition planning should begin no later then when the child 14.5 years old.  Itís the law.  Transition goals should be a part of the IEP.
Develop independent living skills.



15 Year Old


Ask school staff about the Illinois Dept. of Human Services/Division of  Rehabilitation Services (DHS-DRS) Program and what services are available.

Write transition goals into the IEP.

Discuss home services and assistive technology.

Ask that DHS-DRS Adult Service providers be invited to IEP meetings to address questions.  Many will come even if you are not currently working with them.
Attend information nights that offer information about future planning such as residential, guardianship, employment, and recreational needs.



16 Year Old


Find and hold a part-time job, in school or in the community.

Update transition goals at the IEP meetings.

Complete the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) by contacting Pact, Inc.
Discuss how long students will attend high school - 4 years or until age 21.
Referral to DHS - DRS.
Attend information night meetings that offer information about future planning.
Begin learning about waitlists for adult services.  Some waitlists can be very long.



17 Year Old


Enroll in vocational education classes.

Establish a graduation date.

Update transition goals in the IEP.
Invite adult service providers to IEP meetings.
Investigate guardianship procedures and determine what is in the best interest of your child.



18 Year Old


Apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid.  Learn about work incentive programs through Social Security.

Make application to PACT Inc. for residential or case management assistance.

Apply to adult service provider.  Take time to visit all providers to find the best match.  Seek clear information on how adult un-mandated services differ from school services.  Keep up-to-date on waiting lists.
Complete the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) by contacting Pact, Inc., if not done previously.
Update transition goals in IEP.  Discuss services needed to best transition from high school to adult services.
Males register for selective service.
Attend a job fair.

Establish legal guardianship only if deemed necessary.  This should be determined based on the best interest of your child.  Consultation with a lawyer specializing in disabilities and guardianship is recommended.

Explore options for future planning or estate planning.



19-21 Year Old


Schedule vocational education classes.

Be in close contact with the adult service agency chosen to serve the student after graduation.

Introduce budgeting and the real cost of living on your own.
Find suitable employment.  Employment that offers the desired work hours and salary.
Ensure all necessary support services (e.g. Respite Recreational, Vocational) are participating in the planning and ready to provide services immediately following graduation.
Explore and obtain necessary funding for adult programs.
Ensure that transition planning covers all aspects of life.
Ensure that you have a plan for medical / health coverage.