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Understanding Transitions

Transition is movement from one environment, system, program or situation to another and happens across the life span. It can be a very exciting time, or perhaps stressful. Transition related to special education children will have different meanings at different times (e.g. early intervention into preschool, preschool into primary, etc.) and include planning through the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or the Individual Education Program (IEP). From Birth – 21, every aspect of a systems transition relates to school readiness.

The Common Core State Standards provide consistent, clear expectations for student learning:

  1. Written so teachers and parents know how to help their student
  2. Designed to be robust and relevant to the real world
  3. Reflects the knowledge and skills young people need for college and careers

The desired outcome for students is to be fully prepared for the future, with integrated communities and positioned to compete in the global economy. Every aspect of the Common Core State Standards is related to school readiness for all children, and all means all. Vision and hearing are integral in a child’s early development with skills that should be attained early. Otherwise, these skills may be more difficult to master later in life.

A young child who is deaf-blind has a much narrower view of the world–remember, all areas of development are impacted when one has a dual sensory loss. Therefore, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) provides for “Child Find” for both Part C: Early Intervention; and Part B: the state Department of Education. The goal is to find children who need our help early in life and allow them to transition with their peers into school and community settings. These inclusive environments allow the student access to the general education curriculum and provide families with opportunities to help their child at home in their quest for knowledge.

Every transition is basically change. When a child experiences fear or anxiety (as is likely when going into a new classroom where he/she doesn’t know anyone, or when he/she gets on a school bus for the first time), an “alarm” goes off in the brain (kind of like a “911” call). This alarm signals the body to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and these hormones travel through the body telling the body to be alert and to get ready to respond to things that might happen in this new environment. Stress triggers “911” within, releasing cortisol which interferes with memory and learning. Research suggests that if the transition is planned, less stress will occur allowing for easier adjustment periods. Transitions happen throughout life, from birth until death. Planning is essential for children, families, and providers.

Services for students on the deaf-blind census stop when the individual exits school at age 21. The Kentucky Deaf-Blind Project follows students until age 22. In collaboration with community providers, the project facilitates the person-centered planning process training for families, students and providers. Regardless of the age or transition time, school readiness for your students is of primary concern for everyone involved. Each agency provides a piece of the “Core Content” puzzle, allowing individual children to build their knowledge and skills to maximize their potential and succeed in school.

Birth to Three: Infants and Toddlers

Part C of Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

Transition into Preschool

Three and Four Years Old: Preschool

Part B of Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

Transition into Primary

Transition into High School

High School to Community: College and Career Ready


Adult Transitions