Building a Transition Plan in 3 Steps | Organization for Autism Research

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To develop an effective transition plan for their autistic young adults, parents need to do some “homework” of their own. This process starts before you begin the actual paperwork and planning with your young adult’s school and IEP team. By collaborating with and empowering your young adult to think about their future, you can lay the foundation for the transition process. This blog post and infographic explain the three steps that parents can take to build an effective transition plan.


Step 1: Assessment

The purpose of assessments is to facilitate thinking and brainstorming about your young adult’s future. These are not formal assessments; rather, they are a way for you and your autistic young adult to assess who they are, what they want for the future, and what it will take to get there. The goal of these assessments is to help you and your autistic young adult understand the factors that will lead to a high quality of life — how satisfied your child feels about their education, work, recreation, spiritual life, social connections, community living, health, and emotional well-being. In order to start exploring these factors and how they can structure future goals, it is important to consider the young adult’s

  • Personal interests
  • Strengths and challenges
  • Past learning history, and
  • Support structure.

Worksheets to guide you and your young adult in exploring each of these domains can be found in Chapter 2 of A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, 2nd Edition (2021), on pages 29-33 and 37-38.


Step 2: Goal Writing

As you engage in the transition planning process, now is the time to think of the broad, overarching goals that reflect the future you want for your young adult. These overarching goals should build from the information you gathered in the assessment phase. Later, you will work with your young adult’s transition team to determine specific objectives, but at this stage, it is important to think big. For example, one mother of a 21-year-old autistic daughter explained, “My goals for my daughter are for her to be happy in whatever she does and to find some personal fulfillment and satisfaction. I believe her goals are the same. She needs to be and wants to be productive, wants to have a sense of independence.” This goal exemplifies the big-picture nature of goal-setting in this phase, the focus on quality of life, and the involvement of the autistic young adult in her own future planning.


Step 3: Anticipating Obstacles

Most goals are not meant to be easy to accomplish and meet in a short amount of time. As you think of the skills, lessons, materials, and information you and your young adult need in order to move through the transition process successfully, obstacles may present themselves. Everyone has skills that need development; the transition process is the time to create a strategy to develop them. Consider the skills that your young adult will need to successfully achieve the goals you determined together, and compare these skills with your assessment of your young adult’s strengths and challenges. What skills does your child already possess? What skills need more development? What resources can help them develop these skills? Answering these questions will enable you to develop a transition plan in which your young adult continues to grow and is equipped to achieve their goals.


Building a Transition Plan in 3 Steps


This blog post was adapted from A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, 2nd Edition (2021). Download or order your copy of the updated guidebook here.

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