Tips & Tools

All Tuesday Tips

Last week, we discussed potential barriers and solutions when planning for multicultural transition conferences. Now, let’s address some important questions.

When developing transition programs that serve families from non-dominant cultures, we should ask ourselves:

  • Have we provided an opportunity for the student and their family to share their background, history, culture, and future expectations?
  • Have we provided opportunities for students to learn the backgrounds, history, and culture of others?
  • Are we mindful of the student’s traditions and cultural expectations when planning transition services and activities?
  • Do the employment, education, and independent living goals align with the student’s traditions and cultural expectations?
  • Does the student need an interpreter or translator to be successful in transition services and activities (e.g., pre-ETS, job placement, or community work experiences?
  • Have we invited all necessary supports to the conference, such as providing the family with transition information in their first language?
  • Have we shared information to all staff on diversity and cultural competence?

We do the student a great service when we recognize, embrace, and celebrate their diversity when planning for their future. Using a family-centered approach in transition planning will increase the likelihood that all students feel valued and experience success moving forward.

Bonus Tip

The team at the Center on Community Living and Careers wishes you all a hearty Season’s Greetings!

Our Comprehensive Transition Open Office Hours will be on hiatus on December 22 and December 29. The Thursday sessions will resume January 5 and will be accessible through the Zoom link below.

Comprehensive Transition Open Office Hours
Thursdays 2:30–4:30 p.m., Eastern Time
CCLC Office Hours ZOOM

To help students plan their postsecondary goals, we reflect on disability- and learning- related needs. But are we also attentive to how a student’s culture and traditions will influence their futures? How can we increase multicultural awareness and strengthen partnerships with families when planning for their child’s future?

Recognizing potential barriers to connecting with multicultural families is essential to transition planning. Conquering barriers beforehand can help guide our steps and assist with collaborative transition planning.

Potential Barriers and Possible Solutions

Barrier: School's unfamiliarity with the country of origin

Solution: Research! Videos such as Greetings from Around the World cover courtesies from across the globe.

Barrier: School's understanding regarding traditions and cultural expectations

Solution: Learn about the family’s culture and their expectations before the transition meeting. Create a family survey in the student’s home language. You can find some great questions in Families Have Much to Share Survey Question Examples.

Barrier: Family’s lack of background knowledge of formal education practices

Solution: Explain the transition IEP process to families. Provide a document in the family’s native language with clear steps.

Barrier: Family’s lack of familiarity with the transition practices in the U.S.

Solution: Discuss the expectations of participation in education/training, employment, and community living for people with disabilities in the U.S. Share stories or examples that demonstrate those expectations and achievements.

While we cannot solve every barrier immediately, we hope that by identifying some solutions, your school and community can continue the important work of making improvements for families and ultimately helping students find success throughout the transition process.


Students looking for the skills, knowledge, and training needed to succeed in a career can find a lot to offer from Career Technical Education (CTE). With rigorous programs that deliver high-quality vocational skills, CTE introduces students to workplace competencies and learning opportunities in a hands-on context.

To help organize its program options, the CTE uses the National Career Clusters Framework tool—yielding 16 career clusters and a total of 79 career pathways. The CTE programs help students discover interests and passions and can lead them to a successful career.

For full information, the Indiana CTE Career Guide is an awesome resource for parents, students, and educators to understand what CTE is all about. Incorporating this guide into the student’s daily activities could lead to quality transition services and activities in their IEP, including:

  • researching career paths that lead to their job interest,
  • determining careers of interest that match the student’s education goals,
  • using the guide to find jobs related to their career interest, and
  • identifying careers with high job growth potential or expected high number of job openings.

To aid student research, the Indiana Association of Career & Technical Education Districts includes a map and a list of CTE programs in the state with program directors and contact information.

For more information about CTE and programs in other states, visit the national Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE).

Bonus Tip

The Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) announces a new and improved format for its weekly open office hours. Beginning Thursday, November 3, the CCLC will host Comprehensive Transition Open Office Hours from 2:30–4:30 p.m., ET.

  • Need an answer to a question about Transition Portfolios or IEPs?
  • About Social Security Work Incentives?
  • About Vocational Rehabilitation?

Our team will be standing by to help you with these and many other transition-related matters of interest. Feel free to drop in with your question or just listen in to learn what your colleagues are asking. No pre-registration required. Follow the Zoom link below to attend on Thursdays.

Comprehensive Transition Open Office Hours
Thursday’s from 2:30–4:30 p.m., ET
CCLC Office Hours ZOOM

If you have a 17-year-old student attending an Individualized Education Program (IEP) case conference, did you know that Indiana law requires schools to mention “Transfer of Rights” at the conference? Transfer of Rights occurs when a student reaches 18, the age of majority. This means they have access to the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Are they ready?

When a student reaches the age of majority, they have the right to vote, marry, obtain a credit card, consent to medical treatments, make living arrangements, sign contracts, and more. Don’t let this transfer come as a surprise to the student and their parents. Decisions made at that IEP conference can affect their choices for a lifetime!

Schools must inform students that they will assume the rights formerly assigned to their parents unless a guardian or an educational representative has been appointed. The law assumes that everyone at age 18 can make their own decisions, and only a court can determine otherwise. This regulation does not apply to students who have been determined to be “incompetent” under state law.

When the Transfer of Rights occurs, parents will no longer have the right to:
receive notice of and attend IEP meetings;

  • consent to reevaluation;
  • consent to change of placement; or
  • request for mediation/due process hearing to resolve disputes.

This doesn’t mean parents can no longer be involved—it simply means the student must invite them. Many of the decisions students make now affect their quality of life after high school, so it is important to keep parents as supporters, and doing so does not require the student to give them guardianship.

In other words, students have options! It is important that students know their options, discuss them with people they trust, and arrive at a decision before the case conference. Neither a student nor a parent should feel pressured to seek guardianship.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

Students have several available options and guardianship is only one of them. Even if the student and parents know the student requires significant support due to their disability and will need assistance making decisions, legal alternatives remain. Courts must consider the least restrictive alternative before limiting a person’s rights.

Here are a few alternatives:

  1. Supported Decision Making: Accommodates choice by identifying a support team that works together with the student to identify the kinds of decisions with which the student might need help and how to provide that support.
  2. Power of Attorney: Voluntarily assigned by the student if they want their parents to continue to make decisions and give informed consent. This can be over financial decisions, medical decisions, or both.
  3. Advance Medical Directives: Completed by the student and allows someone else to make medical decisions in their stead when they are not capable of making a decision.
  4. Guardianship: Must be obtained through the courts and gives someone the legal authority (and duty) to care for another’s personal and property interests.
  5. Conservatorship: Must be obtained through the courts and gives someone the legal responsibility for your financial interests.


PACER: Prepare Your Child for Age of Majority and Transfer of Rights

Learn About Supported Decision-Making (SDM)

Indiana Disability Rights. Protect Your Rights

Get Started with Supported Decision Making

Resources: Indiana Disability Rights

A visual resume—A.K.A. a representational portfolio, or person-centered resume—is a positive and strength-based representation of the job seeker. This type of resume is a visual marketing tool introducing job seekers who need customized employment or more intensive or longer-lasting supports.

When you are supporting a job seeker with a limited repertoire of formal experiences and skills, the visual resume can be a strong alternative. In other words, this is for the job seeker whose typical resume might not warrant consideration from an employer who can’t readily discern their contributions.

Many job seekers with varying levels of disability have skills and experiences that can directly translate to meeting employer needs. For job seekers experiencing the most significant impacts of disability, they will generally fall short of consideration when compared to other people with disabilities, not to mention people who do not have disabilities.

The purpose of the visual resume is to help level the playing field. It does so by minimizing the exclusionary effect of competitiveness and helps the employer imagine, envision, identify, and buy into what the job seeker has to offer.

With this visual resume, the Pre-ETS provider or teacher may use photos and videos to convey and demonstrate the job seeker’s most consistent, reliable strengths. Done well, the visual resume will convey their positive contribution potential and give the employer a holistic snapshot of the job seeker. In short, the visual resume can facilitate more meaningful conversation around possibilities for the job seeker.


This week’s Transition Tip comes courtesy of Adria Nassim, research assistant with the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. Her blog, Adria's Notebook, focuses on her experiences as a young adult with disabilities and touches on topics of independent living and community involvement in teens and young adults with disabilities. She is in frequent demand for her lectures and presentations on autism and developmental disability.

I started participating in my case conferences at 14. The assembled adults would talk for a while and then I would give my opinion on any changes I wanted to see made to my schedule. Looking back, I see that case conferences were an excellent introduction to advocating for myself.

What is a case conference?

A case conference is a meeting where students, parents/guardians, and school staff gather to discuss the student’s goals and needs for accommodation support in the special and regular education classrooms. Typical participants in a case conference include school administrators, teachers, and staff such as physical therapists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, aides—anyone who works with the student regularly to give them the best educational experience possible.

Look and Leap

Encourage your student to take the leap and speak up for themselves, because they know their needs better than anybody else. Circumstances vary, of course, and so will the student’s ability to advocate in the conferences. As the teacher, begin early to ensure that your student has as much active participation in the planning process as possible.

Whichever situation may fit the life of your student the future belongs to them—if they can learn to advocate for themself.

Self-advocacy Tips and Things to Know:

  • Self-advocacy is a learned skill; it takes practice.
  • Include students in any process with active participation and decision making, particularly when the issue at hand affects the things they care about.
  • Teen years are prime time to practice self-advocacy skills.
  • Students practice self-advocacy by asking for help with things and giving help to others.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Make sure your voice is heard!

Whether your students are voting for the first time, have voted in a previous election, or won’t vote for another year or two, you can help them learn how to manage this important independent living skill.

Helpful Voting Resources

  • Vote 411A great place to prepare for elections! Links to learning what’s on your ballot, finding your polling place, securing provisions for voters with disabilities, finding debates and forums in your area, and much more.
  • Indiana University Libraries voting helpplenty of direct links to candidate and registration information, voting guides for students, constitutional primers, and more.
  • Indiana Voter Portallinks to voter registration, voter status verification, polling place location, voting hours, sample ballots, and more.
  • Application for Absentee VotingPeople with disabilities are eligible to vote via absentee ballot. (Note: Local Election Board must receive the application at least 12 days prior to the election - October 27, 2022).
  • Information About Assistance at the Polls for Voters with DisabilitiesVoters requiring assistance due to their disability are welcome at the polls on Election Day. Poll workers or a designated relative or friend can help them at the polling place. Two poll workers from each political party are available if the voter requests aid.
  • Information About Photo IDs on Election DayIn most cases, an Indiana driver's license, Indiana photo ID card, Military ID, or U.S. Passport is sufficient.
  • Videos About Voter RegistrationBrief videos from Indiana Disability Rights on voting and the registration process. Available in English, Spanish, and ASL.
  • Your Vote Is Your Voice54-page guide to voting from the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. (Note: In Indiana, a voter who has a legal guardian may still cast a ballot; this is not the case in all states.)

For students with disabilities, an apprenticeship can be a positive pathway to a career. These job-related educational courses are available in many employment sectors, and typically are a combination of classroom learning and hands-on work. Students can find apprenticeships in community colleges, technical training schools, and through some employers.

An apprenticeship provides students with immediate access to proven mentors. In turn, an apprenticeship brings professionals together with those who want to learn their career. Apprenticeships can offer hands-on learning and working opportunities—a tremendous benefit for some students. For a complete list of nationally approved apprenticeship career options, visit the Apprenticeship USA website.

Apprenticeships can help when working to carve out a job from other responsibilities. Job carving, as defined by Cary Griffin, is “the act of analyzing work duties performed in a given job and identifying specific tasks that might be assigned to an employee with severe disabilities.”

Career technical education centers, community colleges, and technical schools support apprenticeship programs and can help students learn about their career interests. Through an apprenticeship, many students can transition from limited work options to a thriving and fulfilling career.


A subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship USA is a one-stop source connecting career seekers, employers, and education partners with apprenticeship resources.

OWBLA promotes and supports Registered Apprenticeship, Certified State Earn and Learn (SEAL), and Pre-Apprenticeship programs that are certified for quality and consistency.

PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship intermediaries to design inclusive apprenticeship programs that meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to gain credentials and skills to succeed in growing industries.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, the the Career Exploration Program from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery offers students a chance to explore all paths to careers—college, certifications, apprenticeships, licensure programs, and Military.

As you work toward a case conference and consider student services and resources, the possibilities soon become overwhelming. Here are some groups to invite to the conference that can connect the student to services and groups of support.

  • Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation (IN VR)

Inviting VR to the case conference meeting will help set the student up for success—whether they refer the student for VR services or not. The VR representative can help the student locate services focused on transition into work and self-sufficiency. If the student is eligible, VR has many programs and can assist with education, work, resource ownership (needing a piece of equipment as an accommodation to work), and self-employment.

VR youth counselors work directly with Pre-ETS providers and schools and can attend case conferences. In addition, each school also has an assigned general caseload counselor from their local office who can attend case conferences. Contact your local office to find out who can attend.

  • Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) Providers

Pre-ETS programs help students between the ages of 14–21 explore careers. The pre-ETS provider can share data they track on transition goals and other transition services. The provider can also assist with age-appropriate transition assessments, postsecondary goals, or pieces of transition services and activities for the student’s IEP. Pre-ETS also helps with the transition into adulthood, with an emphasis on employment and skill development.

  • Waiver Case Managers (CM)

CMs are state-approved and work with one of six companies in Indiana to serve Medicaid waiver recipients. They help set goals, budgets, and plans for the students through the LifeCourse curriculum. CMs connect students to self-advocacy, skill development, employment support, therapies, residential support, and similar services. A CM can provide a larger picture and can streamline goals the student is working on in the schools and the home settings.

Bonus Tip:

On October 22 and 28, 2022, the Center on Community Living and Careers will bring the Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) to the Cardinal Ritter Resource Center, in New Albany, Indiana. The free FEAT training sessions run from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Now available in five states, FEAT raises expectations about competitive integrated employment opportunities. It teaches people with disabilities and their support community how to access the resources to help them gain employment.

Sign up for the free October 22 and 28 FEAT sessions here.

Looking for ways to connect students with employers in your area? Not sure where to look or who to talk to? Good news! There are many resources right at your fingertips and likely several established processes within your school corporation to explore.

  1. Team up with your school’s guidance counselors and CTE course teachers.
    With the new Indiana Graduation Pathway requirement for work-based learning, they have resources to help your students.
  2. Connect with Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation.
    Their highly trained job coaches and counselors have established relationships in your community to help you find the right fit for your student. (Be sure to invite them to your student’s Annual Case Conference!)
  3. Check out Career One Stop and ONET.
    Explore careers, link up with local training opportunities and programs, and build your résumé.
  4. Bookmark the Indiana Department of Workforce Development Job Fair website.
    There, you will find a list of job fairs happening statewide and links to resources by region.
  5. Dive into INSTRC State and National Resources.
    Lots of links to organizations specializing in employment for people with disabilities.
  6. Use the IDOE Transition Portfolio Guidance resource.
    Create digital portfolios and video résumés as an imaginative way to highlight student skills and capture an employer’s attention.
  7. Peruse Indiana Disability Resource Finder.
    Access a wide variety of organizations with employment options across the state.
  8. Sign students up for a virtual program through The Forage.
    In this unique work experience, students have access to opportunities with Fortune 500 companies.
  9. Join your region’s Cadre of Transition Leaders.
    These teams have connections and are always happy to share ideas—Stay up to date on all things transition!
  10. Connect via social media.
    Facebook, Instagram, Linked In—To stay abreast of job opportunities, “like” and “follow” businesses or area coalitions involved in employing people with disabilities.

Through these resources, you can connect with and establish lasting relationships with employers in your communities. And, if you run out of options, visit us at our Thursday office hours from 2:30–4:30 p.m. EST to brainstorm with team members.

Transition IEPs are a multifaceted artifact, created in concert with the student, their family, the school’s special education staff, and other members of the student’s support team. Annual goals recorded in a Transition IEP must:

  • be observable;
  • be skill-based;
  • be measurable;
  • support the transition plan; and
  • be based upon present level data.

But the most important qualification for annual goals to work in a Transition IEP is they first must pass the “Stranger Test.”

What is the “Stranger Test”? Think of those times that you received a new IEP from another state. Did you understand all the parts you read? If someone came in and asked you to have the student display their skills as outlined in their annual goals, would you know exactly what skill they were to perform, how to connect annual goals to the student’s Transition Plan, or how to measure for the student’s performance?

For example, you could interpret a goal of increasing expressive language as a reference to verbal output, whereas the original goal might have intended to measure use of an assistive device or sign language. Knowing this crucial distinction is essential to measure progress toward this goal. Check out this discussion about the Stranger Test from the Zumbro Education District in Byron, Minnesota for further insight.

It can help to have another person read your annual goals to find out how clear they are. Consider sharing them with a round table of fellow educators to gain objective feedback on how well they understand the annual goals.

Until then, below are some links to examples of good annual goals that would pass the “Stranger Test.”

Bonus Tip:
If you have any questions or need help writing your annual goals, follow this link from 2:30–4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday afternoons to join our weekly Open Office Hours. 

Do you sometimes feel stumped or need help finding creative and aligned Transition Services and Activities for your students? You’re not alone! If aligned well to the rest of the IEP, Transition Services and Activities can make students excited to investigate their interests and preferences while discovering their strengths and needs. It is a time to celebrate self-exploration through meaningful student-centered transition services and activities based on the student’s specific postsecondary goals.

Transition Services and Activities are a set of coordinated events that inform and facilitate a student’s passage from high school toward employment, education, and independent living. Students, with the assistance of parents and teachers, can help design the best transition services and activities. If done well, these activities can help students:

  • determine if the path they have chosen is the one about which they are most passionate; and
  • decide if they need to make a change to their postsecondary goals and rethink their transition plan.

You can review the best transition services and activities with the student and write up their experience as an authentic assessment for next year’s IEP…. coming full circle.

Our favorite resources for Transition Services and Activities are:

Check them out and share your best ideas with us at

Thinking about using Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) in a student’s IEP? You’re in good company! Many transition professionals use Pre-ETS administered by local adult service providers to align an individualized, focused transition service and activity with a student’s postsecondary goals.

When using Pre-ETS in an IEP Transition Service/Activity section, follow these four rules to avoid Indicator 13 compliance issues:

  1. Write the title of the activity that the student will be doing with the Pre-ETS provider in the Description box (rather than “Pre-ETS”). For example, write “Job Shadowing” or “Career Research” etc. in the Description box. “Pre-ETS” is not a specific activity.
  2. Explain in the Narrative section what the activity includes and how the activity supports the student’s specific postsecondary goals. You can mention “Pre-ETS” in the Narrative, but it is not necessary because the focus is on the activity the student will do.
  3. Identify “Pre-ETS personnel” (or however you decide to name that person) in the By Whom section in addition to the school personnel that is supporting the service. It is also best practice is to include the student here as well.
  4. Invite the Pre-ETS personnel to the Case Conference and document it in the Notice of Case Conference.

Learn More

To learn more about Pre-ETS in an IEP, check out these free resources:

Sensory sensitivity is associated with many conditions transition students may experience such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety disorder, Tourette syndrome, and others. To understand what students with this condition may experience, watch this short video simulation of sensory overload.

A student may have hypersensitivity in one sense and hyposensitivity in another. For example, they could be very sensitive to loud noises but not know when they are cold and should wear a jacket. In addition, influences like stress or fatigue can cause sensitivities to fluctuate in the same person. Students who are hypersensitive to loud noises would benefit from noise cancelling headphones. Students who are hyposensitive may seek stimulation with activities such as spinning or chewing on a pencil.

Examples of Sensory Triggers

  • Sight—flashing lights, fluorescent lights, busy patterns, clutter
  • Hearing— outside traffic noise, fire alarms, school bells, sudden announcements over the loudspeaker
  • Taste—new, intense, or displeasing flavors
  • Smell—perfumes, chemicals in science lab, unfamiliar odors
  • Touch—rough clothing, sudden contact, rain, wind
  • Vestibular and Proprioceptive—swinging, spinning, climbing, jumping, confinement, changes in air pressure
  • Inner Body (Interoceptive)—hunger, thirst, changes in temperature, having to use the restroom

What Can You Do?

  • Be aware of any sensory sensitivities in your transition students and modify the classroom environment if possible.
  • Provide alternate lighting or turn some of the fluorescent lights off.
  • Avoid perfumes and essential oils without inquiring if these are a possible trigger.
  • Approach students from the front.
  • Avoid sudden loud noises.
  • Create a sensory room or give a hot pass to the restroom or guidance office for a break.

By implementing these measures, your students will be able to focus on their lessons and not the sensory triggers around them. The practice of maintaining focus and developing awareness of their sensory triggers will aid them as they enter life after high school—your attention now can set them up for a successful life of independence.


Are you a student, family member, educator, or employment professional interested in learning more about transitioning to life beyond high school? Then Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) is just the thing for you.

Funded through Vocational Rehabilitation—and available to you at no-cost—Indiana FEAT is designed to increase family, student, and professional knowledge of the state, federal, and community resources that support employment. Our INSTRC team conducts FEAT trainings both virtually and in-person around the state. Visit our website for a full schedule of FEAT sessions.

Who should attend?

FEAT is valuable for students with disabilities preparing to exit high school, family members supporting someone seeking employment, and anyone who helps people find employment, gain benefits, and become independent.

What’s it all about?

  • FEAT is about knowing your rights.
  • FEAT is about knowing your community resources.
  • FEAT is about understanding your options.
  • FEAT is about being inspired by positive storytelling and connecting with others through common shared experiences.

FEAT training includes individual and group activities, discussions, pullout sessions for young adults, and presentations from local employees, entrepreneurs, and community resource agency members.

FEAT training facilitators follow up with technical assistance sessions to support participants as they take steps toward achieving competitive integrated employment.

What topics are covered?

  • Indiana’s Employment First policy;
  • outside-the-box employment possibilities;
  • success stories;
  • family/parental role in supporting employment;
  • transition to adulthood (healthcare, work, postsecondary education/training);
  • employee and employer resources;
  • information to support gaining and maintaining employment; and
  • antidiscrimination laws.


In short, attending FEAT sessions is a brilliant use of time and energy—we hope to see you there! To register, visit the Center on Community Living and Career’s FEAT page.

Come on, get your FEAT on!

Transition-focused educators looking for resources have a friend in the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC). Visit our website to find a plethora of transition aids, including  a Transition Resources section that gives educators full access to our Tuesday’s Transition Tips, Transition Assessment Matrix, and many other helpful transition materials.

In particular, the resource collection section is conveniently organized into categories such as High Support Needs, Administrators, Professionals New to Transition, and Self-Determination Resources. We also offer direct links to sites with career videos that can be useful as Transition Services and Activities.
If you’re in a hurry, try this quick and easy way to access resources about the Transition IEP, Portfolios, Postsecondary Education, and Postsecondary Employment. This concise flyer will link you directly to resources such as:

  • the IEP Checklist,
  • the Transition IEP Rubric,
  • the Transition Portfolio Trainings,
  • the Transition Services and Activities: Making the Connection guide,
  • the Transition Miniseries, and
  • the Transition Assessment Matrix.

The handout also connects you to the Indiana Cadres of Transition Educators, the popular What’s Next? newsletter, Tuesday’s Transition Tips, Adria’s Notebook, and the Transition Talks @ High Noon. 

But wait . . . there’s more! On this handy-dandy resource sheet, you will also find links to:

  • Is College for You?,
  • Choosing an Employment Provider Agency, and
  • Benefits and Work Incentives fact sheets.

We hope you find our resource guide reliable and relevant as you navigate all things transition. 

Find our quick reference flyer here

Hello again from all of us at the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center!  Although the summer break may seem too short and returning to class a little bitter-sweet, here are a few ways to bring a little sunshine with you into the new school year.

Self-Care: Look for some of the gifts of summer that you can bring into the classroom to stay grounded while looking for the treasures of transition for yourself as well as your students. You can help prevent or soothe feelings of anxiety by implementing the following:

INSTRC is here for you: We are back and ready to meet your secondary transition needs!  You can find loads of transition resources on our INSTRC website; if you need any help, please reach out to us at or come to our virtual office hours from 2:30 –4:30 p.m. ET every Thursday.
Teamwork makes the dream work: We have a great (and growing) team!

Our newest INSTRC team member, Sarah Lamb, joins us as research associate this month and comes to us from Indiana Digital Learning School where she has been a transition coordinator. Make her feel welcome!

Keep an eye out for Tuesday’s Transition Tips every Tuesday this school year. If you have questions, suggestions, or a request for INSTRC, email us at

Welcome back and have a great school year!

Today marks the last Tuesday’s Transition Tips for the 2021–22 school year. Thanks for all you’ve done to support our state’s transitioning students and their families!

We know how hard you work to keep up with what seems like a never-ending list of tasks. From providing transition assessments to appropriate postsecondary goals to clarifying transition services and activities—for each student you serve, we hope you have felt our desire to assist you!

Though you’ll not receive a Tuesday’s Tip for a few months, we encourage both new and experienced educators to peruse our repository of transition resources at your leisure during the break. 

For your summer enjoyment, check out the following:

But most of all, take some time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate yourselves this summer.

Your INSTRC Team
Cathlene, Mike, Mary, Brady, Cecilia, Sandy, and Judith

Bonus Tip
We're hiring! The Center on Community Living and Careers is seeking a Research Associate to help with our Indiana Department of Education contracts to conduct training, technical assistance, and evaluation, and manage relationships with stakeholders across the state. If you're interested or know someone who might be, please follow this link to learn more and apply.

Between 2019–2020, 17,298 Indiana students experienced homelessness of some form (National Center for Homeless Education, 2022). These numbers include 3,112 students with disabilities and refer to many forms of homelessness: from students temporarily having to live in a motel or the family car to students whose family lives on the streets or in a shelter. Being homeless can also include a child who lives with relatives or friends without any plan of obtaining permanent housing.

Students who are homeless have difficulty fulfilling basic needs, such as regular meal access, clean clothing appropriate for school and the season, school supplies, proper hygiene, access to medical care and medications, social services, banking for the family, or gas for transportation. Homeless children are also less able to avoid dangerous situations and unsupportive circumstances and are less likely to stay in safe environments free from abuse (Litchman, 2021).

Because of these difficulties, all public schools must follow the McKinney-Vento Act (MVA), which provides specific services and assistance for students experiencing homelessness. The MVA enables students to attend their school of origin or the school nearest where they temporarily reside and to enroll without scholastic, medical, or similar records. The MVA also provides transportation to school, even if the school of origin is outside the current district.
Perhaps most importantly, the MVA guarantees a student will receive all services provided through the public school. This means that students who are receiving special education via the IDEA 2004 act, or protection from Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, will continue to receive these services, despite being homeless.
Indiana also has non-profit agencies that aid homeless students. It is important for educators to know about the rights of students who are homeless, the trauma that students can experience because of homelessness, and the assistance these students may need. Be ready to support and assist students so they can find school to be a safe, stable, secure place.
Some takeaway tips for teachers working with homeless students with disabilities:

  • Be familiar with the laws protecting these student’s educational rights.
  • Work to be the stable part of that student’s life by providing a safe learning environment.
  • Work with school counselors, social workers, and staff to ensure students’ needs are met.
  • Maintain the student’s confidentiality about their living situation.


McKinney-Vento Act: Homeless Children and Youth Program

Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention 

Stopover Youth Shelter and Support

Indiana Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantees

Indiana Youth Institute Data brief about Youth Homelessness in Indiana 

If all students need support as they leave school and move on to adult life, then students who are in foster care need extra support. Unfortunately, they have not always received this care and too often this has led to undesirable outcomes.

Luckily, many states have created initiatives for students in foster care who are transitioning into adulthood. Indiana’s programs provide financial and personal resources, employment and postsecondary education guidance, and access to adult mentors. Mentors are especially important because they can meet with the student regularly and provide listening ears, a way to get questions answered, and good examples of how to succeed as an adult.

Check out the websites below to find more information about these initiatives in Indiana. Also included is a toolkit for students in foster care, created by the U.S. Department of Education. Becoming familiar with these resources can help your transitioning students obtain success!


  • Foster Club of Indiana
    Filling the gap for Hoosier youth who lack a peer support group and need information to navigate the foster care system.
  • Foster Care Transition Toolkit
    A U.S. Department of Education guide to help youth access the resources needed tosuccessfully transition into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education, and develop meaningful careers.
  • Indiana Older Youth Initiatives
    Managed by the Indiana Department of Child Services, Older Youth Initiatives assist youth up to age 23 make the transition to self-sufficiency.
  • Youth Connections Program
    Youth-driven program dedicated to connecting youngsters with caring adults who can provide guidance and support.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow for our monthly Transition Talk at High Noon. Cathlene Hardy Hansen and the crew will be chatting about IEP Annual Behavior Goals.

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

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center has redesigned the Transition Miniseries so that busy educators like you can access transition information when you are most available to learn it. The updated Transition Miniseries covers topics that are important to transition educators, such as:

  • Course 9—Adult Services and Supports after High School 
    Examine adult agencies and resources that help support students in the transition years and beyond. 
  • Course 10—Transition Portfolios
    Explore transition portfolio basics, including their importance, relevance, and usefulness.
  • Course 11—Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice in Transition to Adulthood 
    Learn how to incorporate diversity awareness in your transition education plans.
  • Course 12—Transition Programs for Transition-Age Youth 
    Discuss considerations for developing and maintaining programs for students 18–22.

The Transition Miniseries is free of charge and completely self-paced: Start and finish on a schedule that works for you. INSTRC will award certificates upon completion that are worth up to 21 contact hours toward Professional Growth Points.

For more information about the Transition Miniseries, stop by our open Office Hours on Thursdays from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. or drop us a line at

Access the INSTRC Transition Miniseries here.

Bonus Tip: 
Help us welcome Ian Ragains, our new Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) Special Education Specialist! He is a new member of the Indiana Office of Special Education and primarily will be supporting districts on matters related to Indicators 13 and 14. He is excited to begin working with Indiana teachers and administrators to support students as they transition to adult life. You can reach him at

Prior to joining the IDOE, Ian was a district manager with the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services. He is a graduate of Hanover College and currently lives in Noblesville, Indiana with his spouse and too many cats. When not at work, he keeps busy kayaking, fishing, and working in various roles with the Tipton Community Theatre. 

We know it can be difficult for educators to find the time to get the training and knowledge they need to stay up to date on teaching trends and strategies. If this sounds like your life, then you’re in luck!

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center has redesigned the Transition Miniseries so that busy educators like you can access transition information when you are most available to learn it.

In this newly expanded set of courses, you will find modules that focus on the Transition IEP, such as:

  • Course 4—Transition IEP: Present Levels of Function Performance
    Information and direction about the section that guides the rest of the IEP, the present levels, and progress monitoring.
  • Course 5—Transition IEP: Transition Assessments and Postsecondary Goals
    Information about the section of the IEP that helps guide the student to what they want to do about their education, employment, and independent living after high school.
  • Course 6—Transition IEP: Transition Services and Activities
    Information about a sometimes-misunderstood section of the IEP that should include specific activities that enable the student to make decisions about each of their postsecondary goals.
  • Course 7—Transition IEP: Annual Goals
    Information about how to write quality annual goal statements that are both skill-based and measurable.

The Transition Miniseries is free of charge and completely self-paced—start and finish on a schedule that works for you. INSTRC will award a certificate upon completion for up to 21 contact hours that can be used toward professional growth points.

For more information about the Transition Miniseries, stop by our open Office Hours on Thursdays from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. or drop us a line at

Access the INSTRC Transition Miniseries here.

We are proud to announce the return of the Transition Miniseries. Formerly known as the Transition IEP Miniseries, the Transition Miniseries includes new courses to provide additional quality information about transition education.

Whether you’re new to the field or just want a refresher, the Miniseries will help you become more familiar with the components of the cyclical planning process and support you as you create quality Transition IEPs with your students.

Here’s a rundown of the courses in the Miniseries:

  1. Transition Miniseries Introduction
  2. Student Involvement
  3. Transition IEP: Introduction
  4. Transition IEP: Present Levels of Function Performance
  5. Transition IEP: Transition Assessments and Postsecondary Goals
  6. Transition IEP: Transition Services and Activities
  7. Transition IEP: Annual Goals
  8. Transition IEP: Alignment/Conclusion
  9. Diversity and Inclusion in Transition
  10. Transition Portfolios
  11. Transition Programs within Schools
  12. Adult Services
  13. Transition Miniseries Conclusion and Resources

The Miniseries runs year-round with no time limit or expiration date. INSTRC awards a certificate of completion to participants documenting course contact hours, redeemable for up to 21 Professional Growth Points.

Whether you’re new to the field or a seasoned teacher or administrator looking for a refresher—we designed this course with you in mind.

To access the Transition Miniseries, go to this link and sign up today!

Would you like transition lessons that teach your students self-determination skills? If so, then check out the Student-Directed Transition Planning course from the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination.

This free course is a series of eight lessons that follow the Student-Directed Summary of Performance methodology (Martin et al., 2007) to help your students process transition information.

The lessons are invaluable for helping students understand the importance of the transition to adulthood. Students will learn concepts such as Self-Awareness, Timeline for Transition, Employment Needs and Strengths, Requesting Accommodations, among others. What’s more, the course will teach them the self-determination skills that will enable them to gain independence as they get older.

Each lesson includes a Power Point presentation, teacher's guide, and lesson activities. The series takes approximately 15 hours and is available for non-profit use without charge.

For more information about the series, visit the Zarrow Institute website.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow for our monthly Transition Talk at High Noon. Cathlene Hardy Hansen and the crew will be chatting about IEP Annual Math Goals.

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

Bullying is a type of youth violence disproportionately affecting students with disabilities. The good news is that we can bring it to an end.

The Problem
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bullying includes “unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners.” It involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is very likely to be repeated. Its harms take many forms, such as:

  • physical (hitting, tripping),
  • verbal (name calling, teasing), and
  • social (spreading rumors, leaving out of group).

Bullying can happen anywhere: in person, electronically (i.e., “cyberbullying”), at school, or in other settings.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 20.2 % of students with disabilities ages 12 through 18 experienced bullying in the 2016–17 school year. Students with disabilities are more likely to be victims of sustained bullying, Rose (2016) finds. Compared with their non-disabled peers, says Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, students with disabilities are more worried about school safety and warned twice as often to not tattle when reporting bullying.


  • explains the deep and pervasive harm not only for victims, but also for bystanders and the persons who bully as well. They provide examples of school-wide approaches to increase empathy, implement trauma-informed practices, and foster social-emotional learning. Read their fact sheet to learn about incorporating mindfulness practices, facilitating circle discussions, and initiating restorative justice programs.
  • Rose (2016) recommends that students with disabilities should receive direct instruction in social and communication skills to buffer these adverse experiences.
  • The Indiana Department of Education has a variety of bullying prevention resources for teachers, students, and administration such as student brochures, sample announcements, and curricula.

With a comprehensive approach, we can stop bullying. We need to continue to use and develop resources to address this societal challenge at all levels by implementing intervention and prevention programs to keep schools safe for all.

Bonus Tip:
On April 6, 7, and 8, 2022, join the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center for online Transition Portfolio Training sessions. Part of our Spring 2022 webinar series, these no-cost sessions run twice daily and offer an introduction to transition portfolio examples, a demonstration of preferred/required section content, and a guided tour of each portfolio format.

Whether you've created many transition portfolios or this your first rodeo, this free training series has something for everyone. Seats are still available—register today!

The annual Capacity Building Institute (CBI) of Indiana’s Cadres of Transition Educators returns this spring. Back by popular demand, and again held virtually, the CBI kicks off at 8:00 a.m. on April 27.

Capacity Building Institute

April 27, 2022

8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Paralympian Hope Bevilhymer will deliver the keynote address. Other topics and presenters included in the 2022 Capacity Building Institute are:

  • The state of the Indiana Department of Education—featuring Nancy Holsapple, Indiana Director of Special Education
  • The state of Vocational Rehabilitation—featuring Jonathon Kraeszig, director of Youth Services for Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Accessible, Useful Transition Assessments—featuring Amanda Crecelius from PATINS
  • Customized Employment—featuring Sandy Block from the Center on Community Living and Careers
  • Creating Useful Transition Services—featuring Mary Pearson from the Center on Community Living and Careers

We invite all transition-focused special educators to attend the free event to network and take part in informative break-out sessions. 

Sign up for CBI today!  

Bonus Tip:
To keep you abreast of the latest trends in special education and help you fill out your year-end IEP reports accurately and efficiently, we are offering a free Indicator 14 training webinar. 

Your accurate year-end reporting means the DOE receives fuller post-school outcomes data when conducting federal needs assessments. Make sure your students are served and that their voices are heard. 

Enroll today for the free Indicator 14 training.

Meet Nick. He is a young man who owns a lawn mowing business and could not have met his career goal without driving. Check out this video about technology that enabled him to drive. 

From test-taking barriers due to a learning or cognitive disability to the need for vehicle modifications to accommodate a physical disability, students may need assistance unavailable at a typical driving school. Here are some supports to help students with disabilities learn to drive.
The Written Knowledge Test
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles can provide accommodations for the written test. A student or their representative must present that request in advance in person at the local BMV office. The BMV will then schedule an appointment for the test with the needed accommodation. 

Some examples are having the test read aloud, taking a paper test rather than a computer test, or taking the test in a quiet room. The BMV also provides testing in American Sign Language for the Deaf through a program initiated by Easterseals Crossroads. 

More Comprehensive Driving Assistance
For students who require more comprehensive assistance to drive, Vocational Rehabilitation may be able to help. (Read more about how students can apply to VR.) VR helps participants who must drive to obtain their job goal but have disabilities that present barriers to driving. For example, a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist contracted by VR could help students who need driver evaluation and training for: 

  • special bioptic lenses due to a vision impairment,
  • vehicle modifications because of a physical disability, and/or
  • driving restrictions due to a learning, intellectual, or developmental disability.

We know driving is a rite of passage that many high school students experience. Students with disabilities can too, with the right assistance.

Bonus Tip
On April 27, 2022, join INSTRC for the annual Capacity Building Institute. The all-day virtual session will feature a keynote address by Paralympian Hope Bevilhymer and updates on what's new in 2022 for the Indiana Department of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation. All transition-focused special educators are invited to the free event to network and take part in informative break-out sessions.

Sign up for CBI today!  

Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) are two of the strongest tools in the special education professional’s toolbox. Let’s see how these programs can help your students.

What is Pre-ETS? 
Pre-ETS helps students with disabilities by providing services such as job exploration, work-based learning, workplace readiness, self-advocacy instruction, and info about postsecondary training options. VR funds Pre-ETS, as a supplement to what a school provides.
Any student from 14–22 years old with an IEP or 504 plan can receive help from Pre-ETS, whether or not they have applied for or been found eligible for VR services. The services offered by Pre-ETS are available in all Indiana counties; review this listing to see which provider offers services in your school.
 . . . but don’t stop there!
What are VR services?
While Pre-ETS provides a needed start in the transition to adulthood, students with disabilities should also apply for VR services. Why? Because VR can provide many individualized services for students after high school, including:

  • vocational guidance and counseling,
  • job placement assistance,
  • job training,
  • tutors and note-takers, and
  • rehabilitation technology.

These are just a few examples; VR allocates services based on individual need. With student/guardian permission, teachers can help students access VR services by:

  1. inviting the VR counselor to the student’s case conference their junior and senior years,
  2. referring the student for VR services no later than the last semester of their exit year, and
  3. ensuring students apply as a part of their IEP Transition Services and Activities or as a part of their Pre-ETS services before exiting high school.

Refer any student to VR who you think might benefit. It is up to VR to determine whether they are eligible and what services they will receive.

Working with Indiana VR video

Working with Indiana VR Fact Sheets in English and Spanish

Local VR Offices Directory

Listing of Pre-ETS Providers by County

Have you ever had a question about something related to transition to adulthood, but needed only a quick answer, not a full training seminar? Me too! The Transition Coalition has just what you’re looking for.

Sponsored by the University of Kansas in partnership with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, their website includes a searchable database where educators post quick transition-related tips. Each tip can be rated so you know which tips your peers thought really hit the mark. The database includes hundreds of user-submitted and rated tips, such as:

There are many more to choose from and opportunities for you to submit tips as well. You can find the Transition Coalition’s Transition Tips database here.

Happy Hunting!

Many changes come when a child turns 18. The door opens to independence, rights, and responsibilities, and if they have been receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, they must soon undergo the Age 18 Redetermination process.

The SSA requires children eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to undergo a full disability redetermination before age 19. SSA schedules an appointment with the student to conduct the redetermination which will determine if the student remains eligible for benefits. If so, SSA will then classify the student as an adult and they will then begin receiving benefits on their own record through SSA.

The Age 18 Redetermination process is the first time the SSA applies the adult SSI disability definition, and they treat the case like a new disability benefits application. The evaluation assesses whether the individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals any of the adult criteria, and, if not, whether they can perform work at a substantial level.

If the child received Medicaid or Medicaid waiver services before age 18, they must complete the Age 18 Redetermination process and apply for SSI benefits to maintain that coverage as an adult. The adult standard is more stringent, and some may not qualify. On the other hand, some who were not previously eligible under their parents’ care or income standards may now be eligible.

For a young adult who is determined no longer eligible for SSI following the Age 18 Redetermination process, the Section 301 provision allows continuation of disability or statutory blindness benefits until the conditions have medically improved while they are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation, employment, or other support services.

Once SSA approves redetermination, the young adult steps toward independence and can begin receiving benefits based on their own situation, needs, and disability records.


Students in Transition SSI After 18 Fact Sheet

What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18

Education professionals treasure the tools and resources that help their students with disabilities access information. Initiatives like the PATINS Project provide accessible materials and assistive technology (AT) for students—key to helping these students meet their potential.

But what about after high school? Here are a few AT resources to offer your transitioning adults.

Hosted by Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis, INDATA increases freedom by helping people of all ages and abilities acquire AT. INDATA is a storehouse of information, offering referrals, device demonstrations and loans, webinars on AT topics, and much more.

An employment services program designed for people with disabilities, VR helps adults who want to work and need AT (and other services) to obtain and maintain employment.

Be sure to refer students whose disabilities significantly impede their independence no later than the beginning of their last high school semester. Ideally, these conversations should begin in the initial transition case conferences. Early referral to VR will smooth their transition to postsecondary training and employment.

  • Colleges and universities also provide AT resources, typically at no cost.

Centers such as the Indiana University Assistive Technology & Accessibility Center or the Purdue Assistive Technology Center can offer loaner equipment, training, alternative format textbooks, and more. If a university does not have a dedicated AT center, contact their disability services office.

Bonus tip: Don’t miss INDATA’s podcasts, daily blog, and their popular Tech Tips video series —free services for anyone wanting to know more about the wonderful world of assistive tech!

Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day began? Accounts vary, but Saint Valentine of Terni reportedly sent a letter to a woman he admired, signed, “From your Valentine.” Other historians connect mid-February to Lupercalia, a Roman fertility festival. Regardless of the disputed origins, many think of Valentine’s Day as a time to send friends and lovers reminders of their affection.

Fast forward to the 2022 classroom: Teachers receive flower bouquets; decorations are abundant; candy is everywhere. Some students get special attention from their romantic interests via public displays of affection, cards, gifts, and more.

Now consider a non-romantically attached student, already experiencing the developmental tumult and struggle common among teens. Imagine a day where, at every turn, you face reminders of how different you are. What can an educational professional do to alleviate some of the pain inadvertently doled out to many students on February 14?


  • Remind students there are many people who feel lonely—it’s okay to feel sad.
  • Encourage students to think about how they can treat themselves. Watch a favorite movie, take a bike ride, make a pizza. It’s okay to shower yourself with attention!
  • Dedicate a time to gather with close friends. Loneliness can be eased when students surround themselves with friends. Remember, romantic love is NOT the only kind of love!
  • Commit a random act of kindness. This will provide a gift to others and take focus away from feelings of loneliness.
  • Encourage a student to journal positive self-talk. If they don’t remember why they are special, remind them!
  • Avoid social media. It will be rife with couples’ activities and posts.
  • Remind students this is simply another day and it, too, shall pass.


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Resources for Youth.

Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Indiana Telemental Health Providers.

Erika’s Lighthouse

“Helps teachers to empower their students with an introduction to mental health, depression-literacy, help-seeking and what it takes to promote good mental health.”

HEARD Alliance

Resources for educators, including a Classroom Mental Health Toolkit for High School.

National Institute on Mental Health

Offers information specifically addressing teenage depression.

“I want to be a crane operator after I graduate!”

Terrific, you will have lots of industries and opportunities to choose from.

“I want to be a nurse after I graduate!”

Fantastic, let’s think more about how to get the education you will need.

“I’m not sure what I want to do after I leave high school.”

That’s okay; let’s start with what you DO know about yourself!

“I want to be my own boss after I leave high school. Maybe start an insect control business.”

Perfect, self-employment might be a good fit. Let’s explore that!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 10,000 self-employed individuals in Indiana. Stay in education long enough and you will inevitably encounter a student determined to use a self-employment strategy to forge their career pathway. Watch out, it’s coming your way!

Self-employment resources and supports are available in abundance across Indiana and the U.S. If you are working with a student who is considering self-employment, you will find several helpful links below. Transition IEP services, activities, and assessments for this student can be also gleaned using these resources. As the saying goes, “use them or lose them.” We hope you use them.


Information and a variety of classroom resources for teachers and pre-ETS providers supporting students interested in self-employment.

Describes entrepreneurship education and offers suggestions for how to introduce self-employment as an option, including for youth with disabilities.

An A–Z list of resources to be used as transition assessments, services, or activities!

Who-to-call for self-employment information and supports.

Information from the national Special Needs Alliance.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow for the next Transition Talk at High Noon. We’ll be chatting with team members of the Center on Community Living and Careers about Postsecondary goals.

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

In early January, we shared a Tuesday’s Tip titled “Behavioral Resources.” Were you able to snuggle up on a recliner and go through those resources? If not, here is the link again.

Have you ever wondered about the purpose of a challenging behavior, or any behavior for that matter? Experts agree behavior has four primary purposes:

  • Access to attention
  • Access to tangible items or preferred activities.
  • Escape or avoidance of demands and activities.
  • Sensory stimulation

David Pitonyak is a behavioral specialist and director of the consulting practice Imagine. He has dedicated his career to understanding and supporting people who exhibit so-called “difficult behaviors.” According to Pitonyak, “suppressing behavior without understanding something about the life the person is living is disrespectful and counterproductive. Difficult behaviors are a reflection of unmet needs. They are meaning-full. Our challenge is to find out what the person needs so that we can be more supportive.”

Pitonyak’s work is full of these insights. We encourage you to peruse his many resources as well as the others listed below—you will be profoundly impacted!

Print Resources

All Behavior is Meaning-full
Importance of Belonging
Notes for Parents
Ten Things You Can Do to Support a Person with Difficult Behaviors

Video Resources

How PBIS Can Prevent Problem Behavior at Your School
Lunch and Learn: Why on Earth Does My Child Do That?
Rethinking Challenging Kids—Where There’s a Skill There’s a Way
The Power of a Teacher

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!

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) now includes Spanish-language translations for each of our monthly issues of the What’s Next? newsletter. What’s Next? is a resource for students, young adults, and families in transition, and for teachers as well. Each issue focuses on a specific transition-related issue, such as job accommodations; Pre-ETS; or piecing together benefits, services, and support.

See past issues of What’s Next? and the Spanish translations (which begin with Issue No. 3) on the What’s Next? page of the INSTRC website. A QR code and a link on that same page will let you subscribe to the newsletter. Share the link with families!

And one more thing! Don’t forget that the INSTRC website also has a Resources in Spanish page, where you’ll find translations of some of our most popular resources. Find it under the Resource Collections tab.

El Centro de Recursos para la Transición Secundaria de Indiana (INSTRC por sus siglas en inglés) ahora incluye traducciones al español para cada una de nuestras ediciones mensuales del boletín What's Next?What’s Next es un recurso para estudiantes, jóvenes adultos, familias en transición, y también para maestros. Cada boletín se centra en un tema específico relacionado con la transición, como las acomodaciones en el trabajo; Pre-ETS; o aunar beneficios, servicios y apoyos.

Consulte las ediciones anteriores de What’s Next? y las traducciones al español (que comienzan con la edición número 3) en la página de What's Next?En el sitio web de INSTRC. Un código QR y un enlace en esa misma página le permitirán suscribirse al boletín. ¡Comparte el enlace con otras familias!

¡Y una cosa más! No olvide que el sitio web de INSTRC también tiene una página de Recursos en español, donde encontrará traducciones de algunos de nuestros recursos más populares. Puede encontrarlo en la ficha Colecciones de Recursos.

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.

Register Now!

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) is combining the open office hours for Transition IEP and Transition Portfolio discussions. Have questions about things like assessments, that persnickety independent living goal, or how to match a student’s skillset with the right job? You can connect with us via Zoom on Thursdays from 2:30–4:30 p.m., Eastern Time, and we will be happy to talk through any questions you may have about Transition IEP or Transition Portfolio topics.

Pop in with any question or just listen in to your colleagues’ questions. You can find the Zoom link under Transition IEP and Portfolio Office Hours at the bottom of the INSTRC Transition Portfolio training page or on the Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Officially, National Disability Voter Registration Week was September 13-20. Did you miss it? Are you too late to teach your students with disabilities about their voting rights? Absolutely not! This is one of those “off” years in Indiana. That means there aren’t any scheduled elections in most of the state, so voter registration is open throughout 2021. If you have students turning 18, though, be sure to teach them now how to register and about the voting process.

For information about voting rights, check out Indiana’s Voter Registration webpage. Another suggestion: Via Zoom, have your County Clerk or Election Board Supervisor talk to students or demonstrate a polling place or how to vote by mail.

Often, parents and adult family members assume that individuals who are under guardianship are not allowed to vote. Please assure them that this isn’t true! The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) published Your Vote Counts, a state-by-state guide on the topic in 2019. You’ll find Indiana on p. 143.

Having a voice, and making it heard is as important as voting. Connect students with groups talking about issues they’re passionate about—ecology, voting rights, schools, civil rights, immigration. If you have students who want to learn more about issues affecting the disability community, have them check out The Arc national webpage on policy and advocacy.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow, October 6, for “Parent Perspectives: Inclusion for Young Adults.” This one-hour webinar, part of our Transition Talks at High Noon, features a chat with Anne Higley, one of our co-workers from the Center on Community Living and Careers, and the parent of two adults with autism. To connect at noon, find the Zoom link on the INSTRC Transition IEP training page and scroll down to Transition Talk at High Noon.

In the final installment of our series on what we learned during this summer’s statewide transition conference, we’re going to visit Mary Morningstar’s keynote presentation, “College and Career Readiness Requires Collaboration.” She focused on preparing youth with disabilities for college and career readiness, collaboration among key stakeholders in transition, and the roles and competencies of secondary educators, education administrators, and community systems. If you didn’t catch that presentation, we have a remedy!

Lesson 4: Your school team or pooled school teams might want to consider use of Morningstar’s book, Your Complete Guide to Transition Planning and Services, available through Brookes Publishing. The paperback and e-book both retail for $29.95. Buy it, share it, read it, repeat. Like the country song says, “Sunrise, sunburn, sunset, repeat.” But you won’t get burned with this purchase, in our humble opinion. This comprehensive book features permission to download, print, or photocopy an array of forms. With Morningstar’s advice and guidance, you might be able to take a few giant leaps toward quality transition implementation and content.

What does Nike say?....”Just do it!”

We’re at Week 3 of our series on things we learned from the fabulous presenters at this summer’s statewide transition conference.

Lesson 3: The regional Indiana Cadres of Transition Educators held their annual meeting during Facing the Future Together. As a part of that meeting, members of the Northeast Indiana Cadre presented the amusing, but instructive “Friday, Indicator 13th: Transition IEP Monitoring Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare.” Their point: Yes, our Transition IEPs need to be compliant with federal regulations, but creating a process now will help allay the heebie jeebies.

The three-year monitoring cycle includes 1) a year of “self-monitoring,” followed by 2) a proactive year, where schools can receive free technical assistance, and then 3) the monitoring year, when data is submitted to the federal government. Creating a plan of action is key, according to the Cadre presenters. They suggested the following:

  • Identify your Transition IEP team in your district.
  • Review your most recent Indicator 13 compliance report or your proactive monitoring report from the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC).
  • Review a sample of Transition IEPs from your district.
  • Identify your areas of greatest need.
  • Schedule training/coaching with collaborators (INSTRC, Indiana Department of Education, and the IEP Resource Center).
  • Plan for ongoing internal monitoring.

Stick to your plan during not only your self-monitoring year but every year. And a little plug from us: We continue to see that districts who use INSTRC’s proactive services consistently score better when they’re monitored. Directors and administrators, if you’re in your proactive monitoring year and are interested in support and services, email us: 

Our thanks to members of the Northeast Cadre, including Adams Wells Special Services Cooperative, Southwest Allen County Schools, Elkhart Community Schools, and the Northeast Special Education Cooperative.