The transition for individuals on the autism spectrum from federally mandated services provided through the school system to adult services can be a challenge. While entitlement to public education ends at age 21, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that transition planning begin at age 16 and become a formal part of the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

This transition planning should include the student, parents and members of the IEP team working together to help the student make decisions about his/her next steps. An Individualized Transition Plan (ITP) should be developed to outline transition services, which may include education or vocational training, employment, living arrangements and community participation, to name a few.

The first step in transition planning is to take a look at the individual’s interests, abilities and needs. For example, what type of educational needs must be met? College, vocational training, adult education? Where can the young adult find employment and training services? What types of living arrangements are best? Does the individual wish to pursue social opportunities?