Transitioning from school to adult life is a big change. For any young person, developing the skills for work and adult life takes planning and support.
For many parents of school leavers with intellectual disability, leaving school can feel like a “cliff”, with little information available about the young person’s options.
This can lead to short-term decisions, where young people end up going straight from school into Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), day programs or not doing much at all.
However, research and experience show that some things can make a big difference for young people with intellectual disability transitioning from school to work.
When to start transition planning
Good transition planning starts early both in school and at home. Families’ high expectations and getting involved in transition planning are two of the most important things that lead to successful transition.
Early planning can include:
- talking with young children about what they want to be when they grow up
- supporting the young person’s independence
- building networks in the community
- joining family support groups focused on transition
- introducing young people to employers and employment services.
What should be included in transition planning?
In high school, structured transition planning can really help young people with intellectual disability move on to open employment. Transition planning can be different depending on which state or territory you live in. It can also vary between schools. So, it’s useful for families to know what should be included.
Transition planning should always be personalised for each student. Planning should involve the young person and help them to work out their own strengths, preferences, needs and interests.
Transition planning needs to also include:
- the expectation that the young person can work
- career advice
- real-world workplace skills training
- work experience.
Work experience is one of the best ways for people with intellectual disability to improve their chances of getting a job.
It’s a good idea to ask about transition planning at your school before Year 10.
This gives you and your young person more time to discuss their future. It also means they have the chance to access NDIS employment supports during Year 10.
NDIS participants of working age can ask for their plan to include help with finding and keeping a job. You will need to talk to your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIS planner ahead of time so that your teenager has the supports in their plan when they need them. The school is still responsible for providing transition support for your child. However, NDIS supports can work alongside school-based work experience and employment activities.
NDIS supports can be used flexibly throughout transition. This might include:
- supporting the young person and their family to take part in transition planning meetings
- helping the young person think about what they want to do
- finding work experience
- getting support during work experience.
Read more Open employment is when people with and without disability work together in regular jobs.