MAIER Transition to Adulthood Training Modules: Part 8 - Putting It All Together

Now that we’ve made it to the last part of the module, let’s take a minute or two to consider how we can reflect on what we’ve discussed and how we can put all of it together for our students.


The transition phase of student’s trajectory through K-12 education into adulthood is critical one in shaping long-term outcomes, and also provides critical means of positively shaping the trajectories of students’ lives into adulthood in employment, education, and independent living. In planning for the employment, education, and independent living outcomes of students with disabilities, the focus should always be around the individual and their goals for the future. We must start and finish by listening to students and providing opportunities for them to share their dreams, aspirations, fears, and visions for the future. Meaningful transition planning must be grounded in person-centered planning–spending the time to discover the person’s vision for their own future.

Once we have a clear idea of the individual’s vision for their future and long-term goals, we can do the work on planning how the experiences, activities, and short-term annual goals that we work on with the student will help them to reach those goals. Fortunately, we also have the benefit of knowing from research which experiences predict better outcomes in employment, education, and independent living. Making sure that we’re incorporating those evidence-based predictors into our students’ educational programming will help ensure that the time we spend while students are still in school will lead to where they want to go in adulthood.

And although all the predictors can be meaningful building blocks for individualized student transition planning, a few stand out as especially important. Paid work experience prior to graduation is the single strongest factor in whether students will go on to a productive work career in the future. Inclusion in academic coursework is critical to preparing students for the postsecondary education opportunities that they’ll need. Finally, instruction in and opportunities to practice self-determination skills will make students more successful in all areas of adult life.

Lastly, don’t forget that transition planning is a team sport! Engaging students and families in guiding the process is a critical first step. After that, using community resource mapping and other approaches to identify needed collaboration and partnership from outside agencies to not only pick up the ball after graduation, but also to collaborate in coordinated service delivery while students are still in transition.

Thank you for spending your time learning more about transition planning and best practices. I hope that you came away with some useful ideas and strategies that you can use. I wish you and those you work with bright and successful futures!

Before you go, please remember to complete the evaluation form to receive 12 contact hours. Thank you!

Eager to learn more?

In this training module, we just barely scratched the surface of all the resources and tools out there related to transition planning for youth with disabilities. The following websites are great next steps to continue learning more and adding to your transition toolkit!