How to Support the Transition to Adulthood

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Transition to Adulthood

Learn how to help your child prepare for life after age 22, whether it’s going to college, getting a job, or finding support for their daily life.
We’ll show you how to plan for transition through your child’s school, and to connect with adult support programs.

Common Transition Questions from Other Parents

Click an arrow to expand the options below.

How can I make sure my child gets the right support at school?

Transition through high school and into adult life can be scary for kids and parents! But the important thing is to be ready ahead of time, and to know what kind of support you can get.

There’s a lot you can do to make sure that your child gets support in high school to help them prepare for life as an adult!

  • Talk as a family about your child’s future goals, challenges, and what kind of support they need to reach these goals.
  • Decide on a Graduation Pathway with help from your IEP team.
  • Make sure your child’s IEP reflects your child’s goals, and that it’s being followed.
  • Create a Transition Plan with your IEP team.

What can the school do to support my child?

If your child is in high school and has an IEP, their school should have services and programs that can help them prepare for their life after high school. This is called Transition Planning.

The school is legally required to create a Transition Plan for all students with IEPs once they turn 16.

Here are some things that the school should be doing to support your child:

  • Follow the IEP: provide all instructional services and accommodations written into it.
  • Keep open communication with you: explain all test results, programs and options so you understand your choices.
  • Work with you and your child to create a transition plan to help them prepare for their future goals.
  • Offer services and programs to help learn job skills, study skills and self-advocacy training.
  • Connect your child to outside agencies that will help them with their goals for adult life.

What is a Transition Plan?

The transition plan is a detailed plan for helping your child meet their goals for adult life after high school.

  • You, your child, and the rest of the IEP Team should work together to write this plan when your child is 16.
  • It will describe the specific activities, services and other supports that can help your child during high school to help them prepare for their future.

The Transition Plan will address your child’s needs for support in these areas:

  • Further education and training
  • Employment
  • Independent or supported living
  • Community participation

What are my child’s choices for pathways to graduation?

Louisiana has two main graduation pathways for all students, including those with disabilities.

Each pathway has its own set of requirements. Your IEP Team can help you and your child decide which is best.

TOPS University Pathway

  • The traditional high school pathway
  • Prepares students to go on to a 4-year college

Jump Start Career (or TOPS Tech) Pathway

  • Prepares students for a technical or community college AND trains them for a specific career
  • Students will get a diploma and one or more “Credentials” for a certain type of job

You may also hear about the Alternate Assessment or 833 pathways, which are part of Jump Start.

  • These are for students who have a significant disability and will need very specialized instruction.
  • You can learn more about these in the FAQ section.

What kinds of tests and assessments will my child have to take in high school?

There are different kinds of tests high school students must take in order to move on to the next grade, graduate or apply to college.

These include:

  • EOCs – End of Course Assessments: To show that a student knows the material from each course.
  • LEAP 2025 Assessments: The Louisiana Education Assessment Program (LEAP): The state performance tests given every year to all Louisiana students in grades 3-12.
  • LEAP Connect or Alternate Assessments: The state performance tests for students with more significant challenges.
  • Standardized Tests for College: These are tests students take in their junior or senior year and use for applying to college. These include the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the ACT (American College Testing).
  • WorkKeys is a standardized test for students in the Jump Start pathway. They may take this instead of the ACT.
  • Students in the Jump Start pathway would also need to take certification exams for the specific job or jobs they are training for.

There are also Transition Assessments your child may take:

  • These may be surveys to learn about their career interests, job readiness skills, and strengths in different areas.

What if my child has trouble with tests?

Testing is often harder for students with disabilities. But there are ways they can qualify for different testing conditions, and in some cases different types of tests.

This includes regular tests in their courses, state performance assessments, and standardized tests like SATs.

Ways to support test-taking for students with disabilities:


  • Students with IEPs or 504 Plans can get accommodations for taking any of these tests. This means they can change the conditions of the test to allow them to work through their particular challenge.
  • Examples are more time to take the test, having the questions read aloud, or using adaptive technology. There are many other accommodations to consider.
  • You have to make sure they are written into your child’s IEP or 504 Plan.

They could qualify for different ways of proving what they learned in certain courses:

This option is offered under a law called Act 833. If a student qualifies, this lets them use different methods of showing what they learned besides the regular EOC test. For example, instead of a written test, they may be able to prove they’ve learned the course content through an interview, oral presentation or a portfolio of their work.

To learn more, look at the FAQs about tests & assessments, and Act 833.

What are accommodations?

Accommodations are changes in the classroom or testing environment to give a student with a disability a fair chance.

  • This means the school or teacher can change the classroom environment or the conditions of the test to allow them to work through their particular challenge.
  • You have to make sure they are written into your child’s IEP or 504 Plan!

Here are some examples:

  • Extra time to take tests or do homework
  • Extra staff, like an aide or a reader
  • Equipment to help with communication, sensory or physical needs

Here’s what you can do:

  • Talk to your child’s IEP team and make sure that they have considered all accommodations that could help your child.
  • Make sure that your child is using all the accommodations that are written into their IEP.

What if my child has a significant disability and needs intense support?

If your child has a significant cognitive disability, there are some important things that you should know.

First, know that you’re not alone! There are a lot of people and programs that can help. It’s a hard journey caring for a child with lots of needs, but you are here learning what to do! That’s a great step!

Here are some things to do:

  • Think carefully about what their life might look like after they turn 22.
  • Make sure that their IEP and transition plan address the skills they’ll need for that future. They may need to learn things like self-care activities, social skills, communication and safety.
  • Talk with the IEP team about connecting with adult service agencies. You must give the school permission to do this, and it will be very useful.

Some important things to know:

  • Your child can stay in school until they turn 22. It’s illegal for a school district to refuse to educate a child.
  • Students with significant intellectual disabilities will take a pathway called LEAP Connect or Alternate Assessment. (It used to be called LAA 1.)
  • When your child turns 18, you will no longer have a legal right to make decisions for them or to see their health or educational records. You may want to consider going through a legal process to get the right to make some decisions on their behalf.
  • You should also apply for Medicaid Waivers if you haven’t already. These can provide paid services to help with personal needs.

What are Alternate assessments/LEAP connect?

The Alternate Assessment or LEAP Connect Pathway is for students with more severe cognitive disabilities.

(It used to be called LAA 1.)

This pathway is for students who need very specialized instruction.

  • This is generally for students who have pretty significant cognitive impairments.
  • These students would be on the Jumpstart pathway and would not be working toward a standard high school diploma.
  • Students will have different (simplified) course content and take modified assessment tests.
  • Students CAN earn a diploma, but their transcript will reflect this alternate status and will not have a Grade Point Average (GPA).

Here’s what you should do:

  • If your child is on this pathway, or you think they should be, ask their IEP team to explain this option!
  • If you think your child can do the regular Jumpstart pathway, you can push for that. Ask about supports like Act 833 and accommodations for classroom learning and testing. (See the other FAQs)

How can my child prepare for employment?

There are many ways your child can get support during high school to help them prepare for getting a job.

Your child’s IEP and Transition Plan should include specific supports that fit with their job goals. Here are some examples:

  • Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS): help students prepare for getting–and keeping–a job.
  • Internships (“Work-Based Learning Experiences”): allow your child to get work experience while in high school.
  • Jump Start Career Pathway (also Called TOPS Tech): trains your child for a specific type of job during high school, and prepares them for a technical or community college .

Here’s What You Can Do:

  • Talk to your IEP team about what kind of skills your child needs, and what the school can offer.
  • Make sure to ask about each of the options above.

How can my child prepare for college?

If your child wants to go on to college, there are lots of ways to prepare during high school.

  • Make sure their IEP and transition plan include college as a goal.
  • Learn about the application process and start preparing early.
  • Encourage more advanced courses and outside activities.
  • Make sure you have the right support for college entrance exams.
  • Learn about different colleges and the services that they offer for students with disabilities.

How can I help my child be engaged in their own education and transition?

Involve your child as much as possible in the transition planning process.

  • Talk to them about their future goals, their challenges, and what kind of support they need to reach these goals.
  • Encourage them to find activities to do outside of school that fit with their interests and can help them learn useful skills. Let them research work or volunteer opportunities.

Share online transition tools with your child.

Encourage your child to explore some of these tools that were made for teens with disabilities.

Click on the links to open these online resources in a new tab:

Self-Advocacy Tip Sheet (This sheet comes from a Massachusetts organization but the tips are helpful to anyone!)

What outside agencies might be involved in my child’s transition?

Louisiana has many organizations that provide services for people with disabilities.

They offer things like job training, internships, social groups, help learning independent skills, or personal care services.

There are many different ones, but here are some examples:

  • Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS)
  • The Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD)
  • The Arcs
  • Centers for Independent Living

These places can be very helpful to your child, and they can be written in to your Transition Plan. You will need to give the school permission to refer you. Don’t be scared to do this. The agencies will give lots of support and it’s all your choice.

What does it mean to be eligible for Act 833?

Act 833 allows students to prove what they’ve learned with a non-traditional assessment. They must qualify, and then work with the IEP team to set it up.

Facts about Act 833:

  • In 2014, a state law, known as Act 833, was passed in Louisiana.
  • It requires students to meet the same expectations, but lets them show their proficiency in other ways besides the regular course assessments.
  • It can allow some students who struggle with traditional testing to move on to the next grade, or to get credit for graduation requirements.

If your child qualifies:

  • They must meet the same expectations as other students, but can show that they have learned the course material in other ways.
  • You and the IEP team could choose different kinds of assessments to prove they have learned the material.
  • For example, instead of a written test, they could do an interview, oral presentation or a portfolio of their work.

I’ve heard these terms, what do they mean?

You’re going to hear lots of new words and phrases!

Also, when you’re reading the screens with more information for any of these FAQs, you can click on an underlined word to get its definition:
How to find definitions within guide

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