During this time frame your teen is turning into a young adult now. At 16 years old, your teen’s IEP plan should now include a transition plan that will be used to prepare them for what lies ahead for them beyond school and guides them into adulthood. Fun recreational activities should still be a part of your teen’s life as recommended during the elementary and middle school years.
- If it has been determined that your teen is on track to receive a regular diploma and they will be taking the PSAT, SAT, and/or FCAT you will need to check your teen’s IEP or 504 Plan to see what accommodations and other approvals they may need to receive accommodations for these tests. Approvals come from the College Board for PSAT and SAT. To help you with this process contact your ESE (Exceptional Student Education) Specialist at your school to have the appropriate paperwork submitted in time.
- Children with a disability and IEP can attend public school until the year of their 21st birthday. When your child graduates from high school their IEP (Individual Education Plan) stops. It does not transfer to the college, university, or vocational program they may be attending. If your young adult child is college bound it’s best to look for a college that is disability-friendly. One clue to help determine this is whether or not the college or university has a disability department. Your young adult with a disability will now have protection under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504. Once again look at the Wrightslaw website for Post Secondary information and Accommodations for College Students. To learn more about colleges and universities that are disability-friendly, click here.
- When your child turns 18 years old, in the state of Florida, legally they are not considered a child any more, even if they have a developmental disability. If your child is still in school, and will be until they turn 21, you and your child will be invited to attend the IEP meeting. Legally, however, you, even as their parent, won’t be able to make IEP decisions any longer unless the school district agrees or legal guardianship is present. If your child is developmentally disabled and over the age of 18, or is about to turn 18, there are issues regarding guardianship over your child that you should be aware of. Determining if you should seek a Guardianship or Guardian Advocacy is an important decision that will need the expertise of an Elder Law Attorney. Visit our resource guide to see the list of experienced Elder Law Attorneys who can assist you with the process. Also, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council offers a comprehensive information book entitled Lightning the Way to Guardianship and Other Decision-Making Alternatives.
- Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program that works with people who have physical or mental disabilities to prepare for, gain or retain employment. VR services don’t start until after an individual has graduated, but a family should start contacting VR when their teen turns 16 years old to make an inquiry and to have a record of this point of contact on file. Six (6) to twelve (12) months prior to your teen graduating from high school VR should be contacted again to look at the transition from the public school system to adult services and needs, which can even include assistance with college and vocational school expenses.