Schools for Children created Different Choices 2021, a virtual college & career transition fair specifically for students with IEPs, 504s and/or mental health challenges. The multi-day event at the end of October included the panel presentation Transitions Are Not Just for Students, organized by event partner Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).
Cindy Cipoletti, Esq., executive director of LDA, moderated the panel which focused on the many ways that parents can support their students’ transition from high school. Rounding out the panel were Monica McHale-Small, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor at Temple University and Beth McGaw, past president of LDA.
The panelists, themselves parents of children who needed accommodations throughout K-12 and in college, spoke from personal experience as well as from the point-of-view of a transition expert. They discussed how parents of students with learning disabilities can best help their children navigate through the transition process, including when to teach them how to advocate for themselves.
Teaching a student with learning disabilities needs to begin earlier than later in the student’s educational journey. Panelists told the parents and caregivers in the audience to “include your student in their IEP meetings as soon as it is allowed,” suggesting to the professionals attending the webinar to encourage this involvement. Most states allow student participation starting at age 14. Enabling students to become involved in their own advocacy as early as possible, prepares them to take over those responsibilities when they go to college and/or begin working.
However, it was also discussed how some students are ready for these responsibilities earlier than others. One panelist shared that her son found it difficult to assume these responsibilities, finding it difficult to advocate on his behalf. He seemed to constantly have conflicts in his early grades until he reached a point in adolescence when he was able to take on more and more responsibility. He seemed to really come into his own in college.
Preparing a student for college includes understanding:
- their readiness for this next step
- their ability to self-advocate
- their understanding of and ability to ask for accommodations
- other skills like executive function, daily living skills, time management and more.
To learn more about the ways that parents/caregivers can prepare a student with learning disabilities for college, visit the LDA website for a comprehensive look at questions to ask and strategies to employ.
Check out the Different Choices resource directory.
Watch video from Different Choices presentations.