Transition to Adulthood

Introduction

Transition is a process that enables children and youth with disabilities to adapt to adult life and fulfill their duties or obligations as expected. The kind of transition planning used among children and youth with disabilities goes a very long way towards determining the nature of their lives in adulthood. Poor transition plans might easily compromise the capacity of these children to fulfill their potential. Similarly, a comprehensive transition plan can easily enhance the fulfillment of potential among children and youth with disabilities. (Burke, 2004)

While planning for transition, numerous perspectives should be considered.  For instance, the support provided to these children may vary in terms of magnitude, amount and strength among other perspectives. Additionally, it is also vitally important to outline the fact that transition to adulthood occurs in different stages such as elementary school to middle school, high school to post-secondary education and post-secondary education to work among others. In line with these types of variations, it is critically important that transition planning teams develop tactics that are as specific as possible. This is mainly because the youth or children in different phases have different learning needs during the transition process. (Chambers, 2005)

This essay encompasses the evaluation of transition to adulthood in its entirety; emphasis will be placed upon the transition plans for youth and children with disabilities. Furthermore, the essay will also encompass the examination of specific merits of transition plans and the identification of the responsibilities of transition teams. After the implementation of transition plans, it is extremely essential to conduct a review in order to examine the gains and shortcomings of the transition process in its entirety.

Importance Of The Transition Process Among The Children And Youth With Disabilities

The transition process among children and youth with disabilities is associated with numerous beneficial implications. The process not only benefits the children and youth with disabilities but also the community. This section seeks to comprehensively examine the impact and/or importance of transition process

Enhancement of Knowledge Acquisition

The transition process contributes immensely towards the enhancement of knowledge among the children and youth with disabilities. This is because the program is developed in accordance with the specific needs of the youth and children with disabilities. Through the transition program, the youth and children with special needs are capable of pursuing studies in such a way that they attain their academic potential. Another important aspect with regard to the enhancement of knowledge acquisition is that the transition process exposes the disabled children to their counterparts.  Therefore, they have the opportunity to interact with one another. This not only enhances their academic skills but also social skills. (Kirton, 2008)

Addresses the Challenges of Adulthood

The transition process provides an excellent platform for children and youth with disabilities to address the various challenges of adulthood. The transition planning process is designed in such a way that the disabled youth and children are adequately prepared for adult life. The exposure provided to youth with special needs in terms of employment opportunities highlights the various challenges of adulthood and how they should be addressed or tackled. Consequently, these individuals can easily cope with the challenges associated with adult life such as financial challenges, social interactions and the like. (Read, 2006)

Alleviating Stigma

In most cases, individuals with special needs or disabilities are stigmatized by other members of the society. Such stigma compromises the individual’s confidence levels in the day to day activities. However, transition process goes a very long way towards alleviating the stigma in that the children and youth with special needs are encouraged to face life positively. Furthermore, through the transition process, members of the community are enlightened about the specific benefits of assimilating individuals with disabilities in the society. (Roffman, 2007)

Key To Successful Transition Planning

In order to develop a successful transition planning program, it is extremely essential to ensure that systematic steps are followed while developing the plan; firstly, a planning team must be established. Such a team should encompass all stakeholders extending from children with disabilities to vocational training specialists. Even though the different members of the planning team are charged with different responsibilities, they should work towards the realization of similar goals. The second step in the planning process encompasses the collection of data; this basically applies to the various children with one or more forms of disabilities.

Consequently, this helps in the formulation of comprehensive programs towards the transition process of youth with special needs. The third step towards a successful planning process pertains to the development of the actual transition plan; this also involves the specification of objectives or identification of intended outcomes.

The fourth stage involves the implementation of the formulated plan in accordance with the stipulated procedures. The implementation should be done carefully in order to avert the occurrence of unintended shortcomings. The penultimate stage of the planning process entails conducting reviews or assessment; this helps in the identification of potential areas of weaknesses. (May, 2001)The last stage involves the formulation of recommendations and implementation of amendments. These guidelines are critically essential as far as the success of transition plan is concerned.

Transition Teams: Providing For Each Aspect Of The Spectrum

Transition teams form an important part of the entire transition process in that they not only facilitate for planning but also for successful implementation and review. Without the establishment of appropriate transition teams, it would be very difficult to achieve the specific goals and targets of any given transition plan. Consequently, it is extremely important to examine some of the most important ways in which the teams should provide for each of the specific components of the transition process spectrum.  Firstly, the transition team should develop a comprehensive program that facilitates for the identification of the youth and children who meet the requirements for being enrolled for the transition plan. (Orelove, 2004)

The chosen youth and children should meet the stipulated criterion for special needs. Another aspect of the spectrum that should be addressed by the transition team pertains to the determination of specific transition requirements for specific stages such as elementary and post-secondary levels of study. As mentioned in the introductory section, different categories of youth and children with special needs have different needs as far as transition to adulthood is concerned. For instance, the transition team should specify the cognitive requirements for children in elementary levels; these needs are different from cognitive requirements for learners at the high school level.

The transition team should also ensure that it develops a comprehensive plan towards the evaluation of the effectiveness derived from the implementation of any given transition strategy. Such an approach facilitates for the inclusion of amendments in the future. (Read, 2006)

The Planning Process: Key Stakeholders And Specific Responsibilities

The planning process for transition to adulthood among youth and children with special needs (disabilities) involves numerous stakeholders. The different stakeholders of the planning team are charged with different responsibilities during the transition process. The most important role players in transition planning and implementation include parents (guardians), youth and children with special needs, educational facilitators, community members, close relatives, vocational experts, special education facilitators, coordinators and social workers. (Burke, 2004)The specific roles of these stakeholders have been elucidated in this section.

Youth and Children with Special Needs or Disabilities

When it comes to the transition process, the youth and children with special needs are the most important stakeholders. It would be more or less unrealistic to draft a plan that does not involve the specific beneficiaries; this is why the youth and children with special needs have to take the lead role in designing transition planning process. In terms of responsibilities, the youth and children must share their targets for academic achievement and professional goals. (Roffman, 2007)The educational facilitators would find it hard to develop an effective transition plan without the knowledge of the specific interests of the youth and children involved in the process.

The youth and children participants must also take responsibility for the pursuit of their goals according to the stipulations outlined in the transition plan. This makes it easier for the transition team to monitor progress and thus identify potential areas of weaknesses. The youth and children with special needs should be provided with adequate platforms that enable them to know their skills or talents; this facilitates for the maximization of potential. During the entire transition process, the youth and children should fully cooperate with other members of the team; this includes being open about their interests, expressing their concerns and the like. Additionally, the youth and children with special needs should ensure that they avail themselves for the various meetings organized by the transition planning team. (Kirton, 2008).

Guardians or Parents

Parents (or guardians) also form an important part of transition planning team for children and youth with disabilities of special needs. The youth and children with special needs cannot take part in any given transition program without the consent of their respective guardians or parents. Apart from giving consent, the guardians are charged with other numerous responsibilities as far as transition to adulthood is concerned. Firstly, they must provide moral support to the youth or children involved in the transition plan. This serves as an excellent source of encouragement for all the youth and children with special needs.

Another important role played by the guardians in transition planning pertains to the provision of material support to the youth and children with disabilities; resources such as learning materials are needed and as such, the guardians should provide them. Furthermore, guardians must monitor progress of their children in the transition process; in line with this, areas of weaknesses or shortcomings are easily identified. (Chambers, 2005)

The guardians of the youth and children with disabilities must work closely with other members of the transition team in order to enhance the quality of outcome. The parents must also ensure that they take part in the various meetings organized by the transition planning team. It is the duty of the guardians to avail information pertaining to the specific interests and strengths of their children. Such information helps the transition team to develop transition plans that align or conform to the specific needs of children with special needs. (World Bank, 2000)

Coordinators

In addition to the youth and guardians, coordinators also form an important part of the transition planning team. The coordinators are mainly charged with the responsibility of drafting and implementing the various technical modalities of the transition team; this also encompasses the maintenance of records and paperwork. It is also the responsibility of the coordinator to facilitate and/or organize the various meetings for transition planning. Additionally, the coordinator should have the capacity to identify and mitigate the various conflicts arising during the transition planning meetings.

In addition to conflict resolution, the coordinators are also charged with the responsibility of developing systematic frameworks and/or modalities for evaluating the progress made during the different stages of the transition planning process. (World Bank, 2000) The coordinator should keep sufficient records as pertains to the transition plan; this provides sufficient platforms for the evaluation. In order to enhance the efficiency of the transition planning team, it is extremely important that they work closely with other stakeholders.

Educational Facilitators

The educational facilitators for the transition planning team are broadly categorized into two distinct groups; the general education facilitators and special education facilitators. The special educational facilitators are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that adequate special learning plans are developed according to the needs of the youth and children with disabilities. This plays an instrumental role towards streamlining the transition planning process. On the other hand, the general educators design learning plans that conform to the standards evident within the curriculum for other learners. (Roffman, 2007)

The special educational facilitators should develop specific learning programs for the various stages such as elementary, high school and post-secondary levels of study. Such a systematic approach enables the youth and children with special needs to achieve their potential for academic performance and fulfillment of professional goals.

All the members of any given transition planning team must participate in meetings organized by the coordinator. According to this provision, the general and special educational facilitators are not exceptions. Their input is extremely essential more so with regard to the technical attributes of educating the children with special needs while also leading them into the right career paths. (May, 2001)During the team meetings, the educational facilitators must ensure that the specific needs and interests of the youth with disabilities ate addressed. Furthermore, both the general and special educators must take the lead role in motivating and inspiring the youth and children with disabilities as they move into adulthood. The educators should also serve as the link between the youth with special needs and the community; this strongly enhances their career prospects upon completion of studies. (Kirton, 2008)

Outside Agencies In The Transition Planning Team

In order to achieve the desired goals, the transition planning team should involve outside agencies. The involvement of outside agencies in the transition planning team helps immensely in terms of enhancing high levels of impartiality in the entire process. Additionally, the involvement of outside agencies facilitates for the generation of extra resources to finance the transition process. Most of the agencies involved in the transition planning process are community-based. This facilitates for the development of non-partisan plans.

The outside agencies might also come in very handy in terms of connecting the transition planning team with government authorities; this might easily serve the purpose of mobilizing resources to finance the implementation of the plans outlined by the team. In addition to the community-based agencies, non-governmental organizations are also essential participants in the transition planning process. These organizations have the capacity to not only mobilize resources but also provide technical input in the planning process. The NGOs are well-positioned to formulate comprehensive plans in line with the employment opportunities for the youth with special needs after completing studies. (Burke, 2004)

Strategies For Older Disabled Children

Older disabled children might sometimes find it hard to secure employment due to the lack of skills. Dealing with such a problem requires an all-inclusive approach whereby comprehensive strategies are formulated in order to impart the relevant skills in these children. In most societies, youth with special needs are strongly marginalized due to the lack of skills and are therefore unable to secure decent employment as they move from childhood to adulthood. (Roffman, 2007).

One of the most significant strategies in line with the enhancement of skills among older disabled children pertains to specialized education. Upon the completion of high school or post0secondary education, these children should be assimilated into specialized training institutions such as technical colleges or youth polytechnics. These institutions have specialized curricula for students with disabilities and would therefore come in very handy for the older disabled children.

In the 21st Century, extensive technological advancements are evident in different parts of the world particularly in countries such as the United States of America. In line with these kinds of advancements, the older disabled children would have an excellent opportunity to hone skills in areas such as software development, computer networking, web design and programming among others. Consequently, this would help immensely in terms of ensuring that the older children have sufficient skills in line with the development of skills as they prepare for employment. In addition to the information technology and communication skills, it is also extremely vital to develop a comprehensive strategy that harnesses the specific talents and/or skills of the older disabled children. Essentially, everyone is talented or gifted in one or more areas; consequently, educational facilitators such as vocational specialists should develop plans that are aimed at enhancing the identifying the specific talents of older disabled children.

Communities should also establish programs that are aimed at creating more employment opportunities for children with disabilities. Such an approach would provide excellent platforms for the older disabled children to harness their skills and thus attain financial independence. The government must also take the responsibility of facilitating for the wellbeing of all children and youth with special needs. Consequently, it should allocate adequate resources for the enhancement of skills among the disabled youth and thus create sufficient opportunities for employment. (May, 2001)

From another perspective, enhancement of skills among the disabled youth would be achieved by establishing community forums that promote knowledge acquisition among these kinds of children. Through these forums, the older children with disabilities would have sufficient opportunities to interact with other people and thus attain the confidence needed in the job market. Such a framework would also contribute immensely towards the enhancement of employment opportunities for the older disabled youth. (Kirton, 2008)

Appropriate Assessment For Transition Planning

Conducting an assessment of the progress or success attained is a critical part of the transition planning process. Essentially, the assessment enables the planning team to determine whether the outlined goals and objectives have been achieved. There are several aspects that must be considered while conducting the assessment for transition planning; firstly, the assessment should be conducted as frequently as possible. This enables the transition team to conduct systematic evaluation of the attainment of goals within the stipulated framework. It is also crucial to make certain that the assessment is conducted by a team of experts; such an approach plays an instrumental role towards averting and/or avoiding any form of bias.

The successful implementation of an evaluation plan must be based upon a sound financial framework; such a framework encompasses the specification of resources needed for the completion of the assessment plan. Apart from a solid financial framework, the assessment of transition should be designed and/or formulated in such a way that the stakeholders are provided with adequate alternatives for the mitigation of different shortcomings. (Chambers, 2005)

For instance, the assessment plan should outline a systematic approach of addressing problems associated with cooperation among the different stakeholders. The assessment plan is also an excellent platform for identifying and remedying areas of weaknesses as far as the transition planning process is concerned. Through the assessment, the transition process may be reviewed in order to enhance it for the future.  (Read, 2006)

Conclusion

The essay has clearly highlighted all the important aspects as pertains to the transition of disabled youth and children from childhood to adulthood. While planning for transition, numerous perspectives should be taken into consideration; for instance, the support provided to these children may vary in terms of magnitude, amount and strength among other perspectives. There are several aspects that must be considered while conducting the assessment for transition planning; firstly, the assessment should be conducted as frequently as possible.

Additionally, it is also vitally important to outline the fact that transition to adulthood occurs in different stages such as elementary school to middle school, high school to post-secondary education and post-secondary education to work among others. Without the establishment of appropriate transition teams, it would be difficult to achieve the specific goals and targets of any given transition plan. Consequently, it is extremely important to examine some of the most important ways in which the teams should provide for each of the specific components of the transition process spectrum. The different stakeholders of the planning team are charged with different responsibilities as far as the transition process is concerned.

The most important role players in transition planning and implementation include parents (guardians), youth and children with special needs, educational facilitators, community members, close relatives, vocational experts, special education facilitators, coordinators and social workers. Dealing with the problem of unemployment among disabled youth requires an all-inclusive approach whereby comprehensive strategies are formulated in order to impart the relevant skills in these children. In most societies, youth with special needs are strongly marginalized due to the lack of skills and are therefore unable to secure decent employment as they move from childhood to adulthood.

References

Burke, P. (2004). Brothers and sisters of disabled children, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Chambers, R. (2005). Looking after children in primary care, Oxon: Radcliffe Publishing

Kirton, D. (2008). Child social work policy and practice, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications

May, D. (2001). Transition and change in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons

Orelove, F. P. & Sobsey, R. (2004). Educating children with multiple disabilities,R. H. Brookes Publications

Read, R. & Clements, L. J. (2006). Disabled children and the law, London:Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Roffman, A. (2007). Guiding teens with learning disabilities, Random House Information Group

World Bank (2000). Making transition work for everyone, Washington D. C.:World Bank Publications

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