Emily Iland, an award-winning author, advocate, and leader in the autism community, discusses key considerations for college bound students on the autism spectrum as they leave high school.
Ms. Iland’s insights are widely applicable to individuals with other special learning needs. The following article has valuable guidelines for all parents of students with IEPs and/or ITPs, whether their child has a learning disability, ADHD or other learning problem requiring special education services.
To help their child succeed, parents need to understand the transition process, the adult service systems, and supports that may be available to students to meet the demands of adult life.
Special education services from age 3 until graduation or age 22 are mandatory by federal law for all eligible students with disabilities. Once special education ends, no law exists that requires or mandates that services MUST be provided to young adults.
Any needed services are funded and provided at the discretion (choice) of a variety of different agencies. The way these agencies operate and the way services are delivered varies from state to state. In other words, when it comes to adult services, there is NO guarantee that the adult will be considered eligible for services.
NOTE: California has one exception by law: services are guaranteed by law for some adults through the Lanterman Act and the regional center system that serves eligible adults with autism and other specific developmental disabilities for the entire lifespan. The needs and services are determined on an individual basis.
Another layer of “discretion” is that service providers and agencies can decide whether they will serve a particular individual. Providers have the option of serving a particular person. This choice is not seen as discriminatory because the agencies and providers are not REQUIRED to serve everyone.
For example, a student may wish to be served by the Office of Disability Services at a University. That office is NOT required to serve every student who applies, and can turn students down. The type of services that the office provides is also up to them, and they are not required to provide a service to meet every need or request from a student. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to adults with disabilities, the intent of the law and its protections are not necessarily a good match for the multiple, complex needs that people with conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and multiple handicapping conditions may have in higher education and the workplace.
Parents and adults need to know that the “right” to services ends with the end of special education. (Read about how parents can control when special education services end.) That is one more reason to be sure that the student with ASD is adequately prepared through the ITP process while the right to special education is in force.
Take advantage of the mandate to truly prepare your child for adult life in all areas of need. An essential aspect of transition is learning about how the legal safeguards guaranteed to adults under the ADA (Adults with Disabilities Act) are different from the rights students age 3 to 22 (or until graduation) have under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and how this may affect a particular person.
Emily Iland is an award-winning author, advocate, researcher, and leader in the autism field. She is the co-author of Autism Spectrum Disorders from A to Z (2004) and translator/publisher of the Spanish version, Los Trastornos del Espectro de Autismo de la A a la Z. Her new book on Reading Comprehension in good decoders with ASD, tentatively titled Drawing a Blank, will be published in Fall, 2010.
Emily is active on the Senate Select Committee on Autism as the co-chairman of the Transition work group of the North LA Task Force.
How you can reach Ms. Iland:
Phone: (661) 297-4205
Visit her website