Transition to Adulthood

What is Transition?

Transition is a process or period in which something or someone undergoes a change and passes from one stage, form, or activity to another. For this resource, transition is the period of time when adolescents are moving into adulthood and often involves planning for postsecondary education and/or careers.

Youth transition to becoming adults roughly between the ages of 14 through 25.

Transition Services

When a youth with a disability reaches a certain age, they will begin to work with their parents, their school district, and others to develop a plan for the transition to adulthood.

Transition services are crucial in supporting youth with disabilities as they plan for post-school goals. These plans are designed to meet individual needs as they progress through school. Transition plans assist students in meeting their post-school goals, such as:

  • gainful employment,
  • post-secondary education or training such as college or vo-tech,
  • independent living,
  • military, and/or
  • group living.
IDEA logo

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 requires transition services to be addressed and, in effect, not later than the beginning of the student’s ninth grade year or upon turning sixteen (16) years of age, whichever comes first, or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team, and updated annually.

Ideally, this process should begin as early as twelve (12) or fourteen (14) years old.

The funding and the services available through IDEA are not available once the student has received a high school diploma or aged out of the school system (depending on the student’s needs, ages 18 – 21).

IEP Requirements

Student Participation

Transition Services must be addressed on the student’s IEP no later than the beginning of the student’s ninth grade year or upon turning 16 years of age, whichever comes first, or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team, and updated annually.

The IEP team must actively involve the student in developing his or her IEP. If the student does not attend, steps must be taken to ensure that the student’s strengths, preferences, interests, and vision are considered as part of the IEP development. The IEP will clearly outline what the student wants to do when he or she has completed high school, how they want to live (e.g., independently, with family, in a group home), and how they want to take part in the community (e.g., transportation, recreation, etc.).

Agency Participation

When IEP meetings involve transition planning, the school district must invite a representative of any other agency likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services. If the agency representative did not attend, the IEP team should document their input. Agencies include, but are not limited to:

A statement of interagency responsibilities and linkages is included in the IEP, when appropriate.

Postsecondary Goal

The IEP must include an appropriate measurable post-secondary goal based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills.

To assist schools in developing appropriate and meaningful transition plans for young adults with disabilities that not only assist the young adult in meeting his or her postsecondary goals, but also help maintain compliance with federal regulations, there are several resources available. The National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC), a United States Department of Education (USDE), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funded center, has developed several resources to aid IEP teams in developing transition plans.

Transfer of Rights

Procedural safeguard rights associated with IDEA transfer to the student at the age of majority, which is 18 years of age. The student’s IEP team should inform the student and parent on or before the 17th birthday that this change will occur. Change of rights may also occur when a student gets married or becomes legally emancipated. The IEP team must plan ahead, and assist the student and the parent in understanding and preparing for the transfer of rights that will occur.

Online Resources

A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities

This transition guide from OSERS assists families and their students and youth with disabilities in developing and pursuing their goals for adult life. The guide addresses transition planning opportunities and programs; transition services and requirements; education and employment options after secondary school; and supporting decisions made by students and youth with disabilities.

Guideposts For Success

The transition from youth to adulthood is challenging for almost every young person. This is particularly true for young people with disabilities. Yet, it is in those crucial transition-age years that a young person’s future can be determined.

An extensive literature review of research, demonstration projects and effective practices — including lessons from youth development, quality education, and workforce development programs — suggests that all youth need:

  • Access to high quality standards-based education regardless of the setting;
  • Information about career options and exposure to the world of work; including structured internships;
  • Opportunities to develop social, civic, and leadership skills;
  • Strong connections to caring adults;
  • Access to safe places to interact with their peers; and,
  • Support services and specific accommodations to allow them to become independent adults.

The Guideposts can help steer families, institutions and youth themselves through the transition processes.

Download the Guideposts 2.0.
Download the Guideposts.
En español.

The Guideposts & Specific Needs

Each of the five Guideposts are listed below along with the corresponding specific needs for each Guidepost.

Download Guideposts for:

Video Resources

The Oklahoma Transition Council (OTC) has developed an ongoing webinar series since 2018.  Their goal is working together to promote a deeper understanding and support of Transition and Transition Resources.

Published with permission from the Oklahoma Transition Council.  For more information, please visit their website at

2018 Series:

Ed Plan and Transition –

This presentation provided information on how to complete the components of EdPlan, especially those related to the Transition Plan. Transition Assessment was also discussed and the above PDF contains links for multiple types of transition assessments.

Community Resources –

Community Resources Across the LifeCourse to Assure a Good Life – Gain strategies for assisting youth and their families in identifying needed resources to assure a good life. Tools will be shared to assist individuals in considering many different types of supports and services, assuring individuals consider not just services the government provides or pays for, but also using their personal strengths and community services that don’t require red tape to access. You will leave this session with great transition tools for working with youth and their families and resources to make transition to adulthood successful.

LifeCourse Tools –

This presentation touched on finding a vision for a good life for all people, by using the “Trajectory to a Good Life” tool. We also discuss the Three Buckets of Support, integrated supports and a One Pager to assist any family to envision a good life. Both presenters are parents of children with developmental disabilities who are navigating through the course of life. Both have personally used the philosophy of the LifeCourse to assist their loved one and to help other families.

2019 Series:

Path, Choice, and Change:  Postsecondary Programs  –

This webinar discussed postsecondary education options for students with intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities. Northeastern State University’s Riverhawks Scholar Program is highlighted as well as the importance of high, yet realistic expectations for all students.

Increasing Student Involvement in the IEP & Transition Process –

This presentation discussed how to get your student more involved in their IEP and transition planning process and how self-advocacy will impact students’ future outcomes. Students gain critical skills they will use in employment and further education settings all through adult life.

For questions, please contact: 

Jenifer Randle Youth Advocacy & Training Coordinator
Call or email: 405.521.4964 /

Transition: School-to-Work

The Transition: School-to-Work Program helps students with disabilities who  are eligible for vocational rehabilitation services to prepare for employment  and life after high school. Services available through counselors in the Divisions of Vocational  Rehabilitation and Visual Services assigned to each high school include:

  • Vocational counseling and guidance assists teachers, parents and students in  developing appropriate career goals.
  • Vocational assessment and evaluation helps determine students’  employment-related strengths.
  • Work study, arranged through contracts with the schools,  provides job readiness skills,  minimum-wage work experience at the school district or in the community and high school  credits.
  • Work adjustment training is provided through contracts with the schools or purchased from community-based facilities,  and provides students with skills to help them prepare for employment.
  • On-the-job training is arranged in the community for students in the second  semester of their senior year with permanent employment as a goal.
  • Supported employment helps students in the second semester of their senior year  transition into permanent employment.
  • Job development and placement specialists help students make job searches more  successful.

After graduation, DRS counselors and students continue to work toward vocational  and employment goals. Some services are available to all eligible individuals  without charge. At this point, individuals may be asked to share the cost of  some services, depending on income and financial resources.

To find the DRS  office that serves your high school, follow this link.

Oklahoma Transition Institute

In partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Special Education Services (SES), The Department of Career and Technology Education, and other key stakeholders  from across state agencies, schools, families, businesses, and other groups, DRS  co-chairs the Oklahoma Transition Council which focuses on improving transition  planning, services, and post-school outcomes for young adults with disabilities.
The council hosts an annual Oklahoma Transition Institute (OTI), where regional transition teams from  across the state come together to learn about innovative practices and programs  and to develop a plan for how to improve transition in their local areas. All of  this work is done in partnership with the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) who has  chosen Oklahoma as one of its targeted states.

To learn more about the council, OTI, or how to join a local transition team in  your area, contact the transition coordinator, by phone at  405.635.2768, or e-mail.

Timeline of Transition Activities

The Oklahoma Transition Council (OTC) developed a timeline of transition activities to help families, schools, and other partners begin working with children and youth to develop skills, access resources, and make strides toward preparing for life after high school.  You can access the timeline by visiting the University of Oklahoma Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment, Timeline of Transition Activities.
Thank you, to our partners at the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, for this information.

Assistive Technology

What is Assistive Technology? Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, device, or piece of equipment used to maintain or improve the functionality of people with

Oklahoma Partners

The Oklahoma Parents Center (OPC) recognizes the multiple partners in many of the communities across the state. These partners are able to help Oklahomans with

Tools and Resources

  The Independent Futures that Work! project is a joint effort of the Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma,