Tips & Tools

All Tuesday Tips

This is the final edition of Tuesday's Transition Tips for the 2023-2024 school year—how time has flown!

As the school year comes to a close, the team behind these weekly tips would like to express our gratitude for your dedication and hard work. Despite the never-ending list of challenges and the need to adapt to new processes, tools, and strategies for your students’ planning and growth, you have persevered!

Tuesday's Transition Tips will be on hiatus for a few months, so we encourage special educators to use the transition resources we have collected over the years:

For any questions you have, we are available at our Open Office Hours every Thursday from 2:30–4:30 p.m. This is a fantastic opportunity to chat, brainstorm, and problem-solve transition-related issues with our team.

Most of all, we urge you to take this summer as an opportunity to focus on the four Rs: Rest, Relax, Reflect, and Recharge. You deserve some well-earned rejuvenation (that’s a fifth R!)

Thanks again for all that you do to support transitioning students and their families. Have a wonderful summer and we’ll see you in the fall!

Indiana’s Department of Education and Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services hope to increase the number of individuals with disabilities in competitive integrated employment from 23% to 38% by 2027. One important way to prepare for that is during secondary transition.

Transitioning from high school to adulthood can be elegantly seamless rather than piecemeal. Important elements of a Seamless Transition, according to TransCen, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of youth and young adults with disabilities, include the following:

  • Establish a Vision
    • Believe that students with disabilities can earn at least minimum wage in an integrated setting (one that includes people with and without disabling conditions) with businesses in the community.
  • Create a Positive Personal Profile(PPP)
    • Use a PPP as a transition assessment to focus on skills, preferences, and passions over labels and deficits.
    • Take a look at a sample PPP.
  • Explore Employment Options
    • Create relationships with employers in your area.
    • Offer multiple opportunities to explore employment.
    • Set a goal: Employment on the last day of school will be the same as the first day after graduation.
  • Build Successful Interagency Teams
    • School staff
    • Employment service providers, like Pre-ETS and VR
    • Student/Families
  • Promote Family Engagement



Summer is a great time to explore employment experiences! Summer employment opportunities are often overlooked for youth with disabilities, but they’re as important for promoting maturity, independence, and adult employment skills for students with disabilities as they are for any other teenager.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Connect with WorkOne centers. Set up a field trip to a WorkOne center to help students find summer employment, apply for summer jobs, interview, and obtain a summer job!
  2. Connect with a local Independent Living Center. They can help students connect to all sorts of area support resources, including transportation, employment, and peer supports.
  3. Work with your local Chamber of Commerce, commerce office, or state department of labor and to connect with employment options for youth. For example, Project Indy provides connections to job opportunities, soft-skill development, and job-readiness training for Indianapolis area teens and young adults.
  4. Think backwards and creatively! Sponsor or connect students to a reverse or an online job fair in your area. At a reverse job fair, students with disabilities can prepare to meet potential employers who come to meet the students. Or, employers can also join a virtual/online job fair to meet with potential youth employees!
  5. Finally, connect with agencies or area Pre-ETS providers that can help students obtain job skills and connect to potential employers.

Career and technical education (CTE) is an excellent way for transition age students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for their career interest. CTE programs can provide different opportunities in a wide range of fields such as automotive, manufacturing, health care, information technology, agriculture, culinary, and more. For a student with an IEP, it’s a good way to get a jump start toward a career by working toward a credential, earning dual credit, and completing work-based learning experiences.

According to the National Center on Learning Disabilities (see below), nearly 11.8 million students in the United States participated in CTE in 2017-18. Of those students, 877,938 were secondary learners with disabilities, and 126,110 were postsecondary learners with disabilities. Students with disabilities have shown more successful postsecondary outcomes when they have access to CTE with accommodations and supports.

Given those positive outcomes, it is important to include CTE information in the student’s transition IEP. Consider incorporating CTE information into the IEP by:

  • including student interests and skills related to CTE programs in the present levels.
  • using transition assessments that target skills and abilities related to CTE programs.
  • including direct statements for employment and education connected to CTE that guide the IEP toward the postsecondary goals.
  • including activities completed in CTE programs as transition services.
  • developing annual goals related to the student’s interests in CTE.

Designing a Transition IEP that incorporates CTE will help the student and their family understand the relevance and purpose of their education.



Earlier this month, we posted a tip on best practices for transition planning. With this tip, we’ll give you a slice of what the Family Employment First Coalition developed to help transition teams understand the key components of transition to competitive integrated employment.

We’ve also put together a key components handout directed to parents and caregivers, but it can also be helpful for students and other members of your transition teams. Please share with them at family nights, during case conference meetings, or as you’re working with individual members of your teams.

  • Engage in ongoing, student-centered, collaborative planning among all key team members.

Encourage students and help them become engaged, active partners in all planning and team discussions.

  • Provide activities and experiences that lead to competitive integrated employment outcomes.

Help students explore a variety of work-based experiences prior to transition to adult life. These can include community-based instruction, job exploration and training, internships, work-study programs, and school-supported community-based programs for students ages 18-22. 

  • Understand adult services and state and federal benefits.

Connect with a benefits specialist to help you understand how students can get the most out of work. 

  • Be familiar with common terms and language related to school-to-work transition.

At the start of transition planning, have a team discussion on terminology and keep a list handy. Ask about acronyms or unfamiliar terms whenever they come up in discussions.


Members of the Family Employment First Coalition:

Composed of key family and disability advocacy organizations throughout the state, the mission of the Family Employment First Coalition is to collaboratively create meaningful change in the transition outcomes of young adults with disabilities who are seeking competitive integrated employment in Indiana.   

Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) provides free information to transition-age young adults with disabilities, their families, educators, and support professionals about accessing customized, competitive, integrated employment opportunities. Now available in Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island, FEAT provides attendees a wealth of information about local, state, and federal resources meant to help support young adults with disabilities who want to work in their communities.

The core FEAT employment curriculum covers benefits, working with Vocational Rehabilitation, customized employment strategies and supports, and much more, but the two-day training also offers:

  • time to network with other families,
  • an opportunity to hear from individuals with disabilities who are successfully employed, and
  • the chance to meet people from agencies providing supports.

Spread the word to students and families about upcoming FEAT sites and dates (see below). FEAT could also be a great professional development opportunity for you, increasing your knowledge and ability to inform students and parents about postsecondary support services and resources.

Delivered by Indiana University’s Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) and funded by Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation, FEAT has extended its Indiana outreach in 2024.

Upcoming Family Employment Awareness Training:

Indianapolis: April 19 and May 3*

April 19th
Carmel Clay Schools
Carmel, IN
May 3
Washington Township Schools
Indianapolis, IN 
*This is a two-day training. To accommodate more attendees, Day 1 of FEAT will be held in Carmel and Day 2 in Indianapolis.

Also look for FEAT in the fall of 2024 in Lafayette and in Batesville, Indiana!

To register for these and other events, visit the CCLC FEAT webpage.

As transition educators it’s our job to help pave the way for that smooth transition from school to a fulfilling, successful life of work, family, and community connection that we hope our students experience. There are some key components and best practices to the transition process that members of the Families for Employment First Coalition recently outlined. 

1. Promote high expectations for an inclusive future.

Help students and families engage in concrete, ongoing conversations about next steps toward their vision.

2. Focus on parent connections, access to peers, and information sharing.

Connect students and families with others who have successfully navigated the transition process. Give them time, opportunity, and accessible spaces to obtain information and ask questions about transition.

3. Emphasize employment and building work skills through real world work experience.

Encourage students to share information about their likes, dislikes, support needs, and experiences with transition team members and prospective employers. Connect them to work experiences in real businesses where they develop skills and explore work cultures and different careers.

4. Focus on community engagement and connecting students and families to ongoing resources and support.

Provide information about state and local resources, services, and supports. Ensure those supports are in place before the student exits school.

5. Develop goal setting and self-advocacy skills.

Teach students how to set goals and advocate for themselves throughout the transition process, from school to adult life.

These principles and steps are really the backbone to all transition planning. We’ve added a transition handout to our website so you can share them with your transition teams and incorporate them into your team meetings and future planning discussions for all your students.


Members of the Families for Employment First Coalition: 


The financial stuff can get complicated for young adults and their families. Benefits, trusts, asset and resource limitations. It’s a lot.

We don’t want to overwhelm you or them. Sometimes tidbits are more helpful than a complete information overload. Today we’ll zero in on ABLE accounts.

The basics. Available in most states, ABLE accounts are a relatively new way to save—much like 529 college saving accounts—designed specifically for people with disabilities. Individuals and families find them useful for managing earnings and funds and for helping individuals save for future goals while still maintaining their Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

Things students and families will want to know:

  • Individuals can’t set up an ABLE account at their local bank. States have their own ABLE programs that enroll individuals. Indiana’s is INvestABLE. (You can compare and contrast ABLE options and choose to enroll in another state’s ABLE plan. But individuals may only have one ABLE account.)
  • In 2024, ABLE account holders can contribute $18,000 to an account. More if that person is working, thanks to the ABLE to Work Act.
  • People with disabilities who receive Medicaid and Medicaid waiver services need to keep less than $2,000 in their combined checking and savings accounts. Individuals and their Representative Payees (a person authorized by Social Security to manage a recipient’s funds) can maintain that balance by moving funds into an ABLE account each month, so they won’t lose benefits and services.
  • ABLE funds can be used to pay for almost anything that improves quality of life. Think big things: an apartment downpayment. Think typical expenses: utilities or rent. Think fun things: a laptop upgrade, a vacation with family, a gym membership.


America’s WorkOne Centers help people get jobs! Per their website, WorkOne staff can help you find a new job, access training you need for a job, and locate information you need to be successful at your job!  

Anyone can visit WorkOne centers located throughout Indiana! WorkOne center staff are connected to their local communities and also have access to information about jobs elsewhere. They can help job seekers learn how to: 

  • Complete applications 
  • Gain better interviewing skills 
  • Find job listings 
  • Write cover letters and resumes, and  
  • Access education and training opportunities to increase job skills.  

Using a WorkOne center is easy! They have in-person and virtual appointment options.   

Special education teachers, school counselors, and other school personnel help your students become familiar with their local WorkOne center. You can visit on a field trip or help students look up and make appointments using the internet. It’s also helpful if you and your colleagues make your own visit to the local WorkOne center to meet some of the staff there and learn more about what these centers offer for students.  

The Indiana WorkOne website provides information about the locations of all of the WorkOne centers in Indiana.  

Our last issue of Tuesday’s Tips focused on supported decision-making. Did you know there are other supports available to help individuals make those important life decisions along the way? Exploration surrounding supports should start early. The continuum of support, listed here from least to most limiting, may include:

  • Independence—enables self-determination and full responsibility. When a person is independent, they take care of their own needs including finances, health care, employment, and housing and are not directed by others.
  • Informal support—describes support provided by immediate family and close friends. It is considered informal because it is provided on an as-needed basis, the support person is not paid, and there is no formal agreement in place.
  • Supported decision-making—allows an individual to keep their rights and make their own decisions with the aid of trusted people who help the person understand, make, and communicate choices.
  • Health care representative—makes health care decisions in the event of an emergency or when the individual is too sick to make decisions on their own behalf. Providing representative documentation to a health care provider can help prevent communication barriers in matters having to do with medical care.
  • Power of Attorney (POA)—gives one or more individuals (e.g., a person or non-profit) the power to act for another person. Those with POA, a legal document, can make decisions about an individual’s property, finances, or medical care.
  • Guardianship—refers to the legal process by which the court assigns someone the authority to make decisions. It can affect the person’s right to choose where to live, work, receive medical care, marry, and more. 

Note:  Indiana law requires that a petition for guardianship discuss what less restrictive alternative options have been considered before guardianship.


Per Indiana law, we are now required to talk about supported decision-making and other alternatives to guardianship during a student’s case conference starting in grade 8 or at age 14. This annual conversation should be thoroughly documented within the IEP and revisited as circumstances change.

That talk can seem overwhelming. It’s a lot of information, involving complicated legal decisions. Here are a few points to share with students and families. 

What Everyone Should Know

Essentially, supported decision-making gives a person with a disability more options, allowing them to keep their rights and make decisions about finances, health care, housing, employment, and other life choices with the help of people they trust. That’s why families and young adults should consider supported decision-making first, before immediately deciding on more restrictive paths, like Power of Attorney (POA), health care representation, or guardianship.


Promoting independence and self-direction is key to developing and implementing successful supported decision-making agreements. Skills involved include choice-making, goal setting, problem-solving, and self-awareness. Individuals should feel confident in communicating their needs with those they trust. Supporters can assist in developing these skills while ensuring the individual maintains final decision-making authority.


Supported decision-making requires a collaborative approach between the young adult and those they deem trustworthy to assist with major life decisions. The person with a disability will lead these collective conversations. Initial discussions will outline the individual’s strengths, needs, available resources, and how they will be supported. Supporters on the “team” can include friends, family, and/or professionals who can help the person understand, make, and communicate their choices.


In Indiana, supported decision-making can be informal or formal, depending on whether there is a written agreement or not. (Rules vary in other states.)  Written agreements are not required but helpful. They specify how the person will be supported and who is committed to providing that support. Supported individuals can change their agreements at any time, add new support team members, and define each member’s role and how they will advise the person with a disability.   


Next week, we’ll explore the continuum of adult support by diving into informal support arrangements, health care representatives, POAs, and guardianship.



Health care transition is one of many challenges associated with transition to adult life. Parents and caregivers may be accustomed to taking care of all the health care needs for their child. Health care transition skills and advocacy is an area of independent living that students can develop through independent living goals in their transition IEP.

For example, many students may not know their diagnosis, why they are taking certain medications, or how to arrange for their own health care appointments. These gaps in knowledge and skill can be translated into Independent Living goals:

  • I will name my health conditions and explain how they affect me with a medical provider.
  • I will keep a list of my prescriptions and what health care conditions they address to share with medical providers.
  • I will schedule medical appointments online or by phone.
  • I will contact my pharmacy to refill prescriptions.
  • I will prepare a list of questions for my medical provider before meeting with them.
  • I will enter dates of medical appointments into my calendar and set a reminder.
  • I will keep a record of my medical providers and their contact information.
  • I will complete an emergency contact form and carry it with me in my wallet, backpack, or purse.

Of course, these are only a few examples; tailor goals to the student’s specific situation and level using an appropriate assessment. Start small and build on success. Through transition IEP goals, you can assist students in becoming more independent with their healthcare needs!


Recently, we wrote a tip on Benefits Counseling for the Transitioning Student, which explained how students who are Social Security beneficiaries can access benefits counseling through Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) or Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation. Currently, students 18 or younger who are receiving benefits are a priority for WIPA. Students over age 18 who are working are also a priority for WIPA and any student beneficiary who is receiving services through Vocational Rehabilitation can receive benefits counseling through the VR process. These services are free.

The benefit to benefits counseling

Fear of losing benefits is one of the primary reasons beneficiaries hesitate to work. However, there are many work incentives built into the Social Security system. A benefits counselor helps the student and their family understand which work incentives apply to their situation. For example, a working transition student may benefit from the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), which allows them to earn up to $2,290 per month and $9,230 per year in 2024 without affecting their Social Security benefits at all. This allows students to work and keep both benefits and income! The SEIE is just one of many beneficial work incentives.

How can I use this in transition?

Here are some potential independent living goals you could develop with beneficiary transition students who are interested in working. These are just examples; tailor the goals to each student’s particular needs.

  • I will call the Ticket to Work Help Line to request benefits counseling.
  • I will use benefits counseling to understand how working affects my benefits.
  • I will request benefits counseling services as a part of my vocational rehabilitation Plan for Employment.
  • I will use benefits counseling to determine if I qualify for any work incentives.

Knowledge is power, and the knowledge of benefits counseling and work incentives can empower students toward increased financial wellbeing and independence!


Understanding a student’s strengths, preferences, interests, and needs related to their individual postsecondary goals is how we, as educators, build relationships and provide guidance and support. To ensure that quality educational services and support is provided to students and a transition IEP is developed that will guide these services, it is important that we use multiple transition assessments every year for each student.

There are five main reasons to use multiple transition assessments.

  1. Comprehensive Information

Different transition assessments focus on various aspects of a student's skills, abilities, and preferences. By using a combination of formal, informal, and authentic transition assessments, educators can gather a more in-depth understanding of the student's interests and areas that require additional support.

  1. A Well-Rounded Approach

Transition planning requires an approach that considers various domains such as academic, vocational, social, and independent living skills. Using multiple transition assessments through the year helps to cover all domains, allowing for a more accurate and well-rounded picture of the student's abilities related to their transition to adulthood.

  1. Individualized Planning

Each student has unique strengths, interests, and goals. Using multiple assessments helps the transition team individualize the transition plan to meet the needs of the student. Collecting data from various assessments allows for tailored planning and supports.

  1. Progress Monitoring and Adjustment

Transition planning is an ongoing process that includes many years of the student’s education. Conducting multiple assessments enables educators to track growth and development. This progress monitoring helps identify changes in strengths and areas of improvement and allows for plan adjustment.

  1. Collaboration and Teamwork

Combining different assessments completed by educators, parents, the student, and other individuals who work with the student encourages collaboration among those involved in the transition planning process. Transition assessments can then be the guiding documents they are intended to be resulting in a more comprehensive and effective transition IEP.

If you have questions about transition assessments, we’re happy to help.

Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center or

Center on Community Living and Careers

Simply put, customized employment is an individually negotiated job arrangement that matches a job seeker’s strengths with an employer’s identified needs. By considering both the needs of the job seeker and the employer, it  gives individuals with significant disabilities the opportunity to make meaningful contributions in the workplace.

Sometimes referred to as job creation, customized employment is referenced in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and the federal code (29 U.S. Code § 705).  

Talk with local employment providers in your area about how they work with both students and potential employers to facilitate customized employment placements. Some flexible strategies for customized employment include:

  • customizing a job description based on current employer needs or on a previously unidentified and unmet employer need;
  • developing a set of job duties, a work schedule and job arrangement, a job location, and specifics of supervision (including performance evaluation and review);
  • helping a student choose a professional who can work with the employer to facilitate customized placement; or helping a student work directly with an employer to facilitate placement; and
  • providing services and supports at the job location.

Why You Should Know About It

You can help those students who are likely to face challenges being hired in the labor market by doing two things. First, educate them about the existence and possibility of customized employment. One possible transition service and activity: Interview adult service providers about their staffs’ knowledge of and experience with customized employment. Second, work with the local Pre-ETS school-based staff person to identify the student’s most persistent and enduring skills (both hard and soft skills) that the student may offer an employer. Work together to describe an ideal employment outcome for the student. This will advance post-school employment options!


Last week we discussed the golden thread of IEP alignment. Here’s a brief recap:

  • The Transition IEP should be well-aligned through all five sections:
    1. Present Levels
    2. Transition Assessments
    3. Postsecondary Goals
    4. Transition Services and Activities
    5. Annual Goals
  • The student’s preferences for their postsecondary goals in employment, education and training, and independent living should be the focus that guides future transition assessments and services and activities.
  • The transition IEP should be a new document each year with new assessments, services, and annual goals.

Along with making sure the entire transition IEP is a quality document, the Indiana Department of Education has made an effort this year to focus on two areas of the IEP.

  1. Independent Living Postsecondary Goals: These goals should outline a skill necessary for the student's future living arrangement (e.g., cooking, banking, transportation, or social abilities). You must tailor goals to the student’s specific needs and preferences.
  2. Transition Assessment in the IEP: A comprehensive IEP should include multiple transition assessments annually. Beyond just interviewing the student or parents, the IEP should incorporate a mix of formal, informal, and authentic assessments. This approach ensures a thorough understanding of the student’s strengths, preferences, interests, and needs in employment, education, and independent living.

Having an aligned, quality, individualized Transition IEP will help each student maximize their potential and access needed resources and supports. Contact the department of education in your state for specific state information about the Transition IEP.


  • Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center — Transition Assessment Matrix — Your go-to resource to find transition assessments.
  • Transition Miniseries — 13 free courses reviewing the transition IEP, student involvement, transition programs, and the transition portfolio (PGPs available for each completed course.)
  • Email us to set up technical assistance over the transition IEP.
  • Center on Community Living and Careers—Visit our free Office Hours to ask about Transition IEPs and portfolios, benefits, vocational rehabilitation, or anything related to our work.
  • Indiana Department of Education – Technical Assistance Request — Go there to request Transition IEP help from the IDOE.

You’ve probably heard that the Golden Thread of a Quality IEP is Alignment. But just what is an aligned IEP?

In addition to just connecting all the parts, alignment refers to the ongoing, outcome-based discovery process which strengthens the thread and leads to fulfilment of the student’s dreams for long-term employment, education or training, and an ability to live independently.

Alignment begins with an evaluation of Present Levels, which tells a rich story about the student. Present Levels answers what we currently know about the student in terms of academics, functional skills, social skills, and physical and medical abilities and needs?

Transition Assessments are crucial for maintaining an aligned IEP because they help us clarify the student’s SPIN (Strengths, Preferences, Interests, and Needs). SPIN is essential for setting the appropriate, individualized postsecondary goals for employment, education/training, and independent living.

Postsecondary goals are the student’s preferences for their long-term aspirations for employment, education/training and independent living based on information from current transition assessments.

Transition Services and Activities aligned to current post-secondary goals are a powerful way to help the student make experience-based informed decisions about continuing or changing those goals. Reviewing the activities with the student builds strong relationships and informs new assessments, which should strengthen, clarify, or even change the postsecondary goals.

Annual goals are meant to address the student’s most significant barriers targeting their academic, functional, and social needs and will better prepare them for their employment, education/training, and independent living goals.

Want to learn more? The Center on Community Living and Careers has upcoming IEP training opportunities in February for new and seasoned educators who want to strengthen that golden thread!

CCLC IEP Training:click here

Who Requires a Transition Portfolio

Varying states will have varying requirements, but Indiana is clear regarding who the transition portfolio impacts. Beginning with students exiting school as a 2023 cohort, any student receiving an Individualized Education Program (IEP) must construct a transition portfolio. This includes students who are opting to receive an alternative diploma. The transition portfolio serves to satisfy Indiana’s Graduation Pathways requirement of demonstrating employability skills and highlights academic skills.

As an educator, you should be aware the transition portfolio does not supplant or replace the Summary of Performance. This can be confusing since much of the same information is used in both the portfolio and the summary. We encourage you to begin collecting artifacts (student-specific information and evidence) as early as middle school, and most certainly, without fail, throughout the high school years. Arm students with a strength-based portfolio to use after high school to enhance and improve student education/training, employment, and independent living goals. The transition portfolio is especially salient for students with significant impacts of disability.

What to Include in a Transition Portfolio

Indiana’s transition portfolio features four broad sections, each focusing on a unique life domain. These four sections are student information, student learning characteristics, academic skills, and employability skills. Within each section, you can use particular information to creatively populate content that is both strength-based and relative to the student’s positive attributes, unique learning needs, necessary accommodations and assistive technology, and academic skills. Most importantly, the portfolio serves as a possibility path, underscoring the student’s career interests and both hard and soft employability skills.

We encourage you to explore the resources below! In addition, we welcome your attendance at open office hours, offered free of charge every Thursday from 2:30–4:30 p.m. EST. Want to talk portfolio? Let’s do it!



With the arrival of each new year, we often set personal goals. Reflecting on the past year, we aim to adopt new practices such as healthy eating, regular exercise, spending more time with family, or ensuring adequate sleep.

As transition educators, you play a crucial role in helping students set their own goals themselves. You can fold these objectives into the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as part of their transition services and activities. Even if a student’s IEP already includes other transition services and activities, it’s always beneficial to assist them in setting additional goals.

Below is a list of possible employment New Year’s resolutions to encourage your students to strive towards. 

  • Attend a networking event with area businesses.
  • Identify the nearby Work One Center and attend a tour.
  • Connect with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).
  • Find a job in an area of interest.
  • Develop a resume.
  • Research and practice interview questions and skills (e.g., STAR technique).
  • Interview the owner of an area business.
  • Make a list of and reach out to individuals who may have community job connections.
  • Attend a workshop or event related to an employment area of interest.
  • Make a list of and work towards achieving the skills needed for the job (e.g., student wants to become a secretary and will need to learn how to type __ words per minute).
  • Study for and obtain a driver’s license.
  • Make a LinkedIn account to showcase your skills
  • Practice asking someone for help with a task.
  • Explore alternatives for disability disclosure in the workplace.


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.


  • Stop 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!

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!

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In 2019, the National Center of Educational Statistics reported that 22 percent of students aged 12–18 experienced bullying. If you're a transition educator, here's how you can support and empower your students to deal with bullying.

Strategies benefiting students with special needs, like team-focused tactics, promoting friendships, and building empathy, are effective against all forms of bullying. Not only will anti-bullying programs inform students, they will also enhance their communication and boost confidence. By involving parents, teachers, and peers in these strategies, schools become welcoming and secure environments instead of fearful spaces.

Practice scenarios are one great way to prepare students how to deal with bullying. Consider this example from the PACER Center:

Scenario: "The Hallway Incident"

  • Setting: Between classes in a school hallway.
  • Situation: Alex, a child with Down syndrome, faces teasing and blocking from peers while moving between classes.
  • Objective: Enable Alex to voice his feelings, seek assistance, and highlight bystander intervention.
  • Discussion: How did Alex feel? How could peers have helped? How should Alex communicate his needs in the future?

Teaching students to recognize and address bullying equips them with vital communication tools for future challenges.


Bonus Tip

To learn more about the dangers of bullying, become equipped to identify bullying behavior, and gain tools to help support the child who is being bullied, join Sherri Cripe, director of School Bullying Prevention at Purdue University on Thursday, October 5, 1:30 pm ET.

Follow this Zoom link or call (646) 876-9923 to join the session.

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.

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. 

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)

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.

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.


“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.

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.

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.

Mental health affects how individuals think, feel, and behave. Biology, life experience, and family history influence mental health, and adolescence, life changes, stress, and uncertainty often trigger mental health issues. Educators must remain aware of their students’ needs and overall well-being during this time of transition.

To promote good student mental health, educators should build strong relationships with students and understand how stress affects their brains. Knowledge of neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganize and change neural networks, is essential for educators, says Lori Desautels. This malleability has significant implications for healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from traumatic brain injuries in adulthood. Educators can use this knowledge to create positive transition experiences that support healthy neural network development.

Educators who understand neuroplasticity can design activities that promote new neural connections, challenge students to think creatively and solve problems, and help students develop effective stress management strategies.

To improve your understanding of neuroplasticity, check out Lori Desautels’ articles linked below. To learn more about mental health disorders and help guide your transition students into a fulfilling postsecondary life, the Center on Community Living and Careers offers self-paced online courses in their new National Learning Academy. See below for course details and links to registration.


  • Lori Desautels: Revelations in Education—A thought leader in trauma-informed education. She shows you how to support student’s emotional regulation and create a supportive environment that allows learning.
  • Edutopia: “The Power of Reframing to ‘Rewire’ Students’ Brains
  • National Learning Academy Mental Health Series:
    • Anxiety disorders— Dive into the types, risk factors, symptoms, treatments, and ways to help people with anxiety disorders reach their vocational goals.
    • Bipolar disorders—Learn the characteristics of bipolar disorders, related functional challenges, treatment options, and how people with bipolar disorder can become competitively employed.
    • Personality disorders—Explore the traits of personality disorders and how they can affect interpersonal relations. Learn about career counseling and planning and strategies to achieve successful employment.
    • Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders—Identify the basic elements of schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. Discover effective employment practices and understand the challenges faced by youth during the transition process.

Bonus Tip

The Center for Health Equity (CHE) at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (IIDC) at Indiana University is conducting a brief online survey to better understand the experience and thoughts of the disability community about getting vaccinations, like flu, COVID-19, and measles. Adults with disabilities, as well as family and paid caregivers of individuals (minor or adult) with disabilities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin can participate in the survey. 

The survey results will help us better understand how to improve vaccinations in the disability community. All responses will be released as part of group summaries, and individual responses will remain anonymous. The entire survey should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. All participation is voluntary.

If you are an adult with a disability or a caregiver of an individual (minor or adult) with disability, and are interested in participating, complete our survey at this link.

If you have questions, please contact CHE Director Don Dumayas via email or by calling (812) 855-2894.

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.


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.

Imagine this scenario: Jasmine is an African American student with learning disabilities who has a strong academic background. She wants to take honors courses, but due to budget cuts, only a limited number of students can enroll. Jasmine's future career is dependent on access to these courses. She plans on going to college to attend an academically challenging program and will be prepared for the program via these honors courses.

Now, consider Mateo. He is a Latino American student with intellectual disabilities who excels in hands-on learning. Despite support from his case manager and some teachers, Mateo is unable to join the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program because he doesn’t score as well in academic courses. The case manager realizes that such situations can lead to negative long-term outcomes for students, with many dropping out and ending up in juvenile detention. District officials claim that students who struggle to meet GPA requirements wouldn’t do well in the CTE programs.

These examples show the impact of intersectionality. This occurs when overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination (e.g., race and disability) harm a student. Special education professionals need to be ready to advocate for their students’ rights and educational opportunities. They should understand the reasons behind civil rights laws and how they can affect post-school outcomes for diverse students.

So, how can special education professionals support students facing the challenges of intersectionality?

  • Be active in curriculum groups and committees and share positive stories and data about the importance of participation for students with disabilities.
  • Plan early and integrate state prerequisites into the schedules of students with IEPs. Help guide them towards these courses from an early stage.
  • Make sure students and families are aware of their legal rights to educational opportunities in schools and empower them to self-advocate.


For more information on the impact of intersections on post-school outcomes for students with disabilities, check out these resources:

Bonus Tip

Excellence for Everyone: National Transition IEP and Portfolio Webinars

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) at the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) has opened the registration for two new Transition IEP webinars:

The Transition IEP webinar will be on February 27 and the Transition Portfolio webinar on February 28. Sessions run 9–11:00 a.m. and again from 1–3:00 p.m. Choose the time that best suits your schedule and leave with resources that will help you create quality Transition IEPs and Transition Portfolios. Cost is $30 per session.

Register today at

As students transition to adulthood and begin working, they may benefit from knowing about Individual Development Accounts. IDAs are special savings accounts that can help qualified Hoosiers save money for approved financial goals through a three-to-one-dollar match. The program usually does not count funds set aside in IDAs against the monthly earning limits of TANF and Social Security programs. The program also offers financial counseling to help individuals improve financial literacy and money management skills.

Adults who have a job, earn income, and who are members of a household with an annual income of less than 200% of federal income poverty guidelines could be eligible for an IDA.

How does it work?

  • IDA participants are eligible to receive up to $4,500 in state and federal match funds that can go toward an eligible asset goal the local program administrator approves.
  • Account holders agree to deposit at least $500 each year.
  • The program matches savings at a minimum of $3 for every $1 saved.
  • The program has a maximum match limit.
  • Account holders must participate in the program for a period—usually 3 years—before participants can spend the money and the match.
  • Participants receive one-on-one counseling and 6+ hours of financial education covering topics such as budgeting, savings, credit, banking, taxes, and other money management strategies.

Some examples of eligible asset goals could be buying or fixing up a house, starting a small business, or participating in an education or training program. Local programs vary, so have your students check with their local IDA Program Administrator for details about the program in their area and how to apply.


Bonus Tip

The IEP Technical Assistance Center is seeking input from Indiana educators and administrators to plan upcoming Universal training events. If you’d like to help, please complete this linked needs assessment by October 27. The information gained will help organizers plan no-cost Universal trainings regionally throughout the school year.

For questions or concerns, contact Marcee Wilburn at

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

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:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life.” This affects approximately nine million children, including those in transition. Food insecurity might last a short time, or it may be an ongoing challenge. 

Childhood food insecurity is not only a financial problem, but also a health, educational, and job readiness problem. Children experiencing food insecurity are more susceptible to illness and may have growth and developmental issues. It can also impede the ability to concentrate and focus on academics, as well as contribute to social and behavioral problems.

Before concluding that a lack of motivation or self-direction is to blame for not reaching an annual goal or an inability to focus, think first about food insecurity. Address food insecurity by providing every transition student with an informational list of resources available in their community. Better yet, make it a point to discuss food insecurity as a routine part of independent living assessments! If access to nutritional food is not an item covered in the independent living assessment, make it one!

Let’s take a small step toward helping children experiencing food insecurity with a few suggestions:

We encourage you to spend time reviewing the resources below and to engage in your own self-directed education related to food insecurity. These resources are full of ideas, research, references, and classroom activities. 


Bonus Tip

The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community invites you to join us in a free webinar engaging in courageous conversations about the nature of biases, the conditions that activate them, and how they can impact the communities served by Vocational Rehabilitation and other disability service systems. 

Register Today!

This webinar will be held on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, from 12:00-1:30 (ET) and will feature Dr. Renae Azziz, founder, and director of Virtuoso Education Consulting. Azziz received her undergraduate and school psychologist training from Indiana University and earned her Doctorate in Education from The John’s Hopkins University.

To get an overview of what to expect, it is highly recommended to check out part one of Azziz’s presentation beforehand.

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

When building a Transition IEP, it is important to listen to students’ needs and interests. Some students may wonder about non-traditional careers, such as law enforcement for women or nursing for men. It is crucial that you hear and record student preferences in their IEP since it helps them achieve goals and transition to a fulfilling life.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines non-traditional careers for women as those with a female employment rate of 25% or less. Firefighters, sheet metal workers, engineers, and computer programmers are examples. Non-traditional careers for men include jobs where women make up at least 75% of the workforce. Some examples are early education, paralegal, or social work.

How can teachers help students explore non-traditional employment opportunities?

Ways to introduce students to Non-Traditional Occupations (NTOs):

  • Indiana Career Explorer gives students access to skills assessments, interest surveys, and a work values assessment to help define which non-traditional occupation they wish to explore further.
  • Big Future helps identify jobs that match a student’s interests and skills.
  • Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has identified many non-traditional jobs and their wages at CVTC Non-Traditional Occupations.
  • The Non-traditional Employment for Women (NEW) Workshop in Fort Wayne, Indiana, provides mentorship to young women looking to pursue a nontraditional career path.
  • Expose students to the growth potential for their job of interest in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook available on the Career Info App.
  • Encourage students to build a network of individuals in their field of interest.
  • Explore and attend industry events and job fairs—build a network here!
  • Investigate online resources such as LinkedIn and build a profile specific to their non-traditional career goals.


Bonus Tip

Family Employment Awareness Training

When: March 24
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: Gary Area Career Center
1800 East 35th Ave.
Gary, IN 46409

Sign up for the Gary, Indiana FEAT sessions!

Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) training sessions offer free instruction to young adults with disabilities, their families, and the transition professionals who work with them. FEAT attendees learn all about local, state, and federal resources meant to help young adults with disabilities who want to work in their communities. Families, transition-age young adults with disabilities, and the professionals who support them are welcome to attend.

For more FEAT information and to register for these and other events, visit the CCLC FEAT webpage.

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!  

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is an evidence-based education system designed to improve post-secondary education and employment results. In their publication entitled Incorporating Career and Technical Education in Transition Planning for Students with Emotional Disturbance, Ellison et al. (2020) note that “youth with ED also participate in postsecondary education less frequently and have lower rates of post-school employment” (p. 2). Ellison et al. cite research that demonstrates:

  • Just four credits of CTE within a concentration greatly increase the odds of having competitive employment soon after high school for youth with ED.
  • CTE programs lower the rate of dropping out of high school and increase not only participation in post-secondary training but also its successful completion.
  • Youth who participate in career exploration and other transition services in a quality learning environment have higher self-confidence in selecting and preparing for a career.

CTE begins with assessments, both informal and formal, to begin the selection of career paths. Career exploration through transition services and activities such as job shadowing or interviewing employers about successful employment skills, helps the student narrow their interests to certain career clusters.

Ellison et al. touch on an important key for working with students with ED: building hope. They describe three considerations as you help students with ED work through the career exploration process:

  • They may tend to underestimate their potential for a career.
  • They may need help understanding their rights for employment accommodations.
  • They may need encouragement to consider higher education with the understanding that participation in CTE does not preclude going to college.

Helping students with ED develop a vocational identity is key to their success—and CTE may play a crucial role in that process.


Family Employment Awareness Training–Online and Statewide

January 31 & February 1, 2, 7, 8, 9
6–8:00 p.m.

Sign up for the free virtual FEAT sessions today!

Many factors can impede a teacher’s connection with their students and the ability to collect transition assessments. Whether a student is in a virtual education environment, alternative educational placement, or experiencing chronic absenteeism, gathering transition assessments requires planning. Here are a few creative techniques that can help.

  • The early bird gets the worm.

Build relationships with the student and family early. Reach out via phone the first week of school. Introduce yourself and communicate the need for consistent communication. Maintain the correct contact information since emails and phone numbers can change.

  • Find the diamond in the rough.

Turn problems into an opportunity by including transition assessment questions in conversations. For example: “I noticed David isn’t coming to school often. Is he working or is there a career or job he is passionate about that we can work with him on to help him gain interest in coming to school?”

  • Strike while the iron is hot.

Counselors and office staff often have paperwork required for school enrollment, so make transition assessments part of the welcome packet.

  • Kill two birds with one stone.

During the first week of school, make transition assessments part of classroom “Getting to Know You” icebreaker discussions and activities.

  • Old dog, learn new tricks.

Provide transition assessments through Google Docs or via a link that can be sent to the parent or student’s email or phone.

  • Make hay while the sun shines.

While you’ve got a captive audience, collect student observations— during classes, clubs, sports, and field trips.

  • It takes a village.

Give transition assessments to the student’s CTE teacher, school counselor, favorite classroom teacher, or community organization so these allies can assist in gathering assessment data. Often, the school social worker, liaison officer, or probation officer works closely with families and has knowledge to share.

  • Call in the cavalry.

If students and parents are not responding after multiple attempts, a welfare check should go into place by the school liaison officer or local police department. Check with your school administrator on the proper protocols for a welfare check. As always, the health and safety of the student is the top priority.

Although it is the special education teacher’s responsibility to gather transition assessment information, this can be a shared process among school staff and parents. If you need assistance, or have a special situation that requires more guidance, please visit us at our weekly office hours every Thursday from 2:30-4:30 p.m. EST.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading along with us in 2022! Tuesday’s Transition Tips will return January 3. We hope you have time to relax and get to enjoy some precious moments with family and friends during this hiatus. Join us again in 2023!

Stay safe, everyone!

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.

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!

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. 

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.

The transition to adulthood is always a challenge, but especially so for those with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to Wes Crenshaw, young adults fall into one of three categories as they transition to adulthood: overly optimistic, terrified, and lost. ADHD can amplify those feelings.

Deborah Reber identifies three steps parents and teachers can follow to assist students with ADHD in the transition to adulthood:

  1. Revisit our ideas about success.
    Allow time for students with ADHD to determine their own path, on a timeline that works for them.
  2. Invest in relationships.
    Even though young adults place high value on peer relationships, they also need strong connections with parents and other adults. Teachers should cultivate this bond so that students feel comfortable sharing their highs and lows.
  3. Help students authentically engage life.
    Instead of the high pressure of finding a “passion,” help students to explore ideas, become self-aware, and feel empowered.

Transition to adulthood can be challenging for students with ADHD. If we work to build relationships and encourage students to explore their strengths, we will go a long way to help them reach postsecondary goals.


Free in 2023—Family Employment Awareness Training

Tell families about the chance to participate in a free, virtual Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT). In a series of six interactive sessions, FEAT increases family, student, and professional knowledge of state, federal, and community resources that support employment.

Covering different topics each day, the no-cost FEAT sessions are comprised of individual and group activities, discussions, pullout sessions for young adults, and presentations from local employees, entrepreneurs, and community resource agency members.

Family Employment Awareness Training
January 31 and February 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9
6–8:00 p.m.
Sign up for the free FEAT sessions today!

For individuals with disabilities and their families, navigating the complex network of services, programs, and other disability-related community resources can be a daunting task. As a transition professional, you have the necessary training and tools to help guide them through this maze.

For instance, the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community has recently added the Indiana Disability Resource FINDER as part of its library information and referral services. FINDER provides a platform for individuals with disabilities (and their supporters) to connect with disability-related programs and services.

Established in November of 2020 in partnership with the AWS Foundation, FINDER is a free, comprehensive online resource locator with 24/7 access to community services. FINDER covers a broad spectrum of disabilities and areas of interest for individuals at every stage of life including direct care, education, employment, guardianship, social skills, and housing, and similar topics that interest transitioning young adults and their families.

FINDER is a user-friendly tool, offering a step-by-step guide to assist first-time users, and equipped with advanced search features for more experienced users. Search results are readily available and can be saved for future use and shared. What’s more, FINDER’s ad-free, rapidly expanding list of resources is constantly updated— there will always be something new and useful to discover.

Check out the FINDER FAQ to learn more about the mobile app, the fastest, easiest way for your students to connect to Indiana’s most trusted disability resource.

Bonus Tip

Excellence for Everyone: National Transition IEP and Portfolio Webinars

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) at the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) has opened the registration for two new Transition IEP webinars:

The Transition IEP webinar will be on February 27 and the Transition Portfolio webinar on February 28. Sessions run 9–11:00 a.m. and again from 1–3:00 p.m. Choose the time that best suits your schedule and leave with resources that will help you create quality Transition IEPs and Transition Portfolios. Cost is $30 per session.

Register today!