All Tuesday Tips

Coping with change can be challenging. Often, when there is no time to prepare, we’re filled with anxiety. For example, many Indiana teachers had to transport their classrooms to a virtual setting due to precautions related to COVID-19. For educators and students, navigating the fluctuating demands of the pandemic has meant even more change, such as flexible schedules and hybrid learning options.

Seven Ways to Cope with Uncertainty,” from the Greater Good Science Center is a timely resource to help your students (and maybe you too!) who suffer from anxiety when life feels out of control. Here are a few of their suggestions for managing student anxiety:

  • Don’t resist: Resisting amplifies problems; accepting lets us see the reality of the situation while finding solutions.
  • Invest in yourself: “When we underinvest in our bodies, minds, or spirits, we destroy our most essential tools for leading our best lives.”
  • Don’t believe everything you think: Expecting the worst can be a self-fulfilling prophecy rather than an opportunity to creatively respond.
  • Pay Attention: Be aware of your emotions and control what you pay attention to. Don’t let alerts, social media, or yet another schedule change hijack your awareness and sense of presence.
  • Find meaning in the chaos: Finding meaning in any crisis helps us create our sense of purpose, and we become part of a personal and collective solution.

“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change,” noted the late motivational speaker Wayne Dyer. When we find a way to reframe our challenges as opportunities, we all become resilient researchers of our own lives and can better help our students manage change when it comes their way—as it surely will.

Bonus Tip:

On February 22, 23, 24; and March 1, 2, 3, you are invited to come learn all about local, state, and federal resources supporting young adults with disabilities who want to work in their communities. Families, transition-age students and young adults with disabilities, and the professionals who support them are welcome to attend the six free virtual training sessions.

To learn more and to register for these free sessions, visit the Family Employment Awareness Training web page.

Teens and young adults with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) experience unwanted, invasive thoughts that can disrupt their lives. It’s important to know that, especially in adolescence, the obsessions and compulsions can morph over time.

Intrusive thoughts about religion, sex, grades, social status, hygiene, and now a pandemic can cause teens with OCD to lose focus in the classroom, make repeated trips to the bathroom, be late to class, miss assignments, ask constant questions, or seek reassurance or “guarantees” from friends or teachers.

Too often students feel overwhelming shame and guilt over their obsessions and compulsions and are so embarrassed they will not share their concerns or ask for help with managing their OCD. Note that sometimes OCD can occur simultaneously with other conditions, like depression, autism, attention deficit disorder, tics, panic attacks, or anxiety.

Things you can do:

  • Suggest a meeting with the student and those who support the student if you’re seeing behaviors that concern you.
  • If the student is diagnosed and has disclosed their OCD, ask the family if it’s appropriate for you to continue to reassure the student about an obsession.
  • Consult with the school behavioral therapist if you and your student need a plan to reduce the number of questions asked during class. Enlist the student in setting goals, so that they feel in control.
  • Boost student self-esteem and watch for bullying or ostracization.
  • Discuss necessary accommodations such as extra time for assignments or tests.

For more information, see Five Things to Understand About Teens and OCD.



Calling all educators who contend with student behavioral challenges!

What is that you say? You’re at your wits end? Never fear, Tuesday’s Transition Tip is here!

As we find ourselves contending with a pandemic, disrupted schedules, technology dependence, a widening socio-economic gap, and the ordinary developmental challenges most youth experience, it’s no surprise that students experience a wide array of behavioral problems. As an educator, addressing these challenges requires a savvy toolkit with a mix of successful strategies, content-specific knowledge, trust, and a good dose of intuitive persistence.

Here are a handful of useful resources specifically designed to disrupt problematic behaviors, understand the meaning behind those behaviors, and to teach replacement strategies. Please take the time to study each resource. Perhaps you have a free Friday evening and a recliner? Snuggle up with these assets and get ready for a fresh start to the next school day.

Hang in there! As the late Jimmy Valvano would say, “Never give up. Don’t ever give up!” Cloaked in the folds of problematic behavior is a student who needs you.

Center for Parent Information and Resources. (A virtual clearing-house of interventions, articles, strategies, tests, legal resources, and much more on the Behavior suite of this user-centered information hub.)

Indiana Resource Center for Autism. (Yes, this is for EVERYONE!) This section includes a wide variety of visual supports on topics such as anger management, grief, the Incredible 5 Point Scale, and a social narrative about winning and losing games.

Intervention Central (some clever ways to short circuit problem behaviors and still reach Common Core goals.)

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). (The PBIS framework is a proactive, preventive approach to behavior management in schools. Dig deep into this one and think about joining their mailing list!)

Teacher Vision. (A plethora of printables and articles from veteran educators to help you manage classroom discipline.)

Reminder: Join us tomorrow, January 5, for the next Transition Talk at High Noon. We’ll be chatting with and learning from team members from the Center on Community Living and Careers.

For more information and the Zoom link, see our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Q: What is a creative transition activity?

A: A means for students to find or confirm their chosen postsecondary path.

Creative transition activities are created specifically with the student’s goals in mind. Typically, the creative team (e.g., student, parents, teachers, family friends, outside agencies, community organizations) crafts the activities with oversight from school personnel.

Here are a few common and creative activities for students in transition.

INDEPENDENCE—experience life in the community

  • Practice the skills of budgeting
  • Following a shopping list for self or others
  • Practice accessing public transportation
  • Visit possible living options

EMPLOYMENT— experience career choices

  • Job shadowing
    • In person or virtually
  • Internship
    • Tried-and-true or blaze a new trail
  • Interview
    • On the phone with someone in the field
    • Record video for review

EDUCATION—experience postsecondary education environment

  • Shadow a college student for a day
  • Research colleges
    • Online investigation
    • Interview advisors or current students
  • Visit educational programs that are a possible match
    • In person or virtually

Finding the best activities that are directly related to a student’s goals requires some investigation well before the case conference. For more ideas, check out our Transition Services and Activities: Making the Connection for more ideas.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday’s Transition Tips will return January 4. We wish you peace, precious moments with family and friends, the excitement and promise of little ones, cozy naps, marshmallows in hot cocoa, and all the joys the season can bring!

Stay warm and safe, everyone!

Having employment experiences before exiting high school is one of the main predictors of long-term employment success. One type of employment experience is job shadowing, which is when a student observes a job. This is a beneficial learning opportunity for many students that allows them to explore a career.

Job shadowing traditionally occurs when a student observes a job in person, but there are alternative ways a student can shadow a job.

For instance, Career One Stop offers many career-assistance resources such as a skills matcher that lists possible jobs that connect to a person’s skills. Career One Stop also offers an extensive list of career videos that enable users to learn about specific careers virtually.

You can find a huge selection of similar career videos over at Dr. Kit—a great way to let job seekers hear from someone that works in a specific field. On the Dr. Kit website, you can also find information about career clusters and lists of career options related to each field.

Another no-cost resource with virtual job shadowing experiences is over at Forage. Job shadowing opportunities on this site start at two hours in length. These experiences are engaging and give the user a good understanding of the job.

In short, virtual job shadowing is great for students that may not have time for a job shadowing experience during their school day or if they are unable to be in the community.

Many colleges and universities now have postsecondary programs that emphasize incorporating students with significant disabilities into the college or university community and environments. Some of these programs are for degree-seeking students. Others are transition experience programs, offering students an opportunity to audit courses, interact with same-age peers, and/or work part-time on campus.

Think College recently developed a list of model accreditation standards that the nation’s postsecondary programs can use to improve or develop high quality programs for students with intellectual disabilities. Among the best practices included in the report:

  • Principles of True Inclusion—addresses whether students are able to live on campus with students without disabilities, participate in the same activities as everyone else, and attend classes with their typically developing peers.
  • Appropriate Supports—ensures that natural supports (from peers) are used as much as possible, rather than bringing someone from outside a typical class or living situation into that environment, who usually would not be there.
  • Person-Centered-Planning—ensures that students are involved in individualized planning for their academics, activities, employment, transportation, and living experiences.
  • Staff Training—requires that faculty and staff receive training on current research-based practices. This should include those who work directly within the college/university program, and those who will encounter and work with students in typical classes, when living in the dorms, and during activities. Trainings should ensure that faculty and staff have the expertise to ensure that students feel accepted, are taught using researched-based methods, and are provided appropriate accommodations.

See the complete list of standards at the link above. To see the list of postsecondary transition experiences and degree programs providing extra supports to students with disabilities in Indiana, visit the Center on Community Living and Careers’ Postsecondary Education webpage.

If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then we are thankful for those who strengthen those links. At every step of the way, teachers like you support our students with disabilities, emboldening and enabling them to overcome their challenges and transition into a life of deep fulfillment.

For all you do—the tireless pursuit of solutions, the hope you impart, and the example you set for the rest of us—we are grateful and indebted to you.

We wish you a rejuvenating, relaxing, and joyous Thanksgiving break! Tuesday's Transition Tips will return November 30.

With gratitude, 

Your friends at the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC)

Consider this: Boats don’t sink because of the water around them; boats sink because of the water that gets into them. In some way or another, we all have water seeping in—physically and mentally!

Our mental health can be summarized as a sense of well-being and safety, an awareness that we all have positive abilities, we can cope with the typical stressors of life, we can be productive, and we can contribute. Unfortunately, our mental health tends to suffer during the holidays. The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays.

Students need your help, especially when so much is out of their control (e.g., poverty, divorce, pandemics). But while students need your help, they may not reach out to you. If they don’t, that’s okay—you can reach out to them! If your arms are too full, don’t worry, Indiana has you covered. The Indiana School Mental Health Initiative (ISMHI) works alongside school districts and their community partners. ISMHI provides “resources, consultation, professional development, and education that promotes and sustains the social, emotional, behavioral, mental, and physical health of Indiana’s school-aged children.”

For more information, check out these upcoming ISHMI events:

Patch that boat!

It’s that time of year when some of your students are either looking at their postsecondary education options or applying to colleges. The Indiana Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) has updated Is College for You? Setting Goals and Taking Action with a new look, new resources, and fresh links. (Don’t you hate those error messages?)

The guide features:

• tables for comparing college programs;
• a chart on the differences between expectations in high school and college;
• an extensive section on paying for college—the FAFSA, scholarships, loans, and grants;
• questions to ask the college disability service coordinator; and
• much, much more.

As your students and families begin planning for those next steps, share the link to Is College for You? with them. Spanish version coming soon!

This fall, the Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) team is offering Indiana families a new opportunity to participate in free interactive employment support training. Virtual FEAT is a series of six interactive sessions that will take place November 30, December 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9.

For the convenience of working families and their supporters, these free FEAT sessions are open twice each day, once at noon and again at 6 p.m. Training gives participants the chance to hear from employment service providers, Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, and young adults with disabilities who are now employed. Sessions focus on various aspects of transition and employment services, such as customized employment, networking, and benefits.

FEAT is sponsored by AWS Foundation.

Register Now!