How to Conduct a Vocational Transition Plan

Three Parts:Preparing for the PlanDoing the Transition PlanPlacing into a Job

Students on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) are required by federal legislation to have a comprehensive transition plan that includes "vocational transition and/or transition to opportunities of higher learning". The following steps are what were developed and followed by an expert in the field with the support of the Yale Child Studies Clinic:

Part 1
Preparing for the Plan

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    Do your Parental Observation. Parents know their children best. Parents observations of their children are key to helping the specialists that come along later.
    • Begin your observation as early as you deem fit.
      • It is suggested that the observation begin in the single digit years, and continue through until the student has graduated out of the school system.
    • Keep a large notebook that is not fragile to record information.
    • Do not evaluate the information, but rather, try to be objective and just write down what you observe.
    • Include things such as tolerance to _______ (fill in blank) as well as intolerance to other things.
    • Record fine motor skills.
      • These include the use of the hands and fingers and the relative dexterity and endurance of using them.
      • Observe activities such as putting together a puzzle, playing with objects of different sizes, gripping tools such as pencils, forks and fine items such as a kite string.
    • Observe gross motor skills such as walking, using the full arm to accomplish tasks, using muscle groups together in a coordinated fashion and others.

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    Observe and record likes and preferences regardless if they seem "vocational" or not.
    • Many complaints are actually "splinter skills" that may not seem like skills as they are not being applied in a helpful way.
      • Taking apart a computer may seem like an annoyance, but if it was done with tools or widgets the child adapted to be tools, this may be a splinter skill (part of a whole skill that may lead to a vocation) that could be quite useful if used in a different manner.
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    Teach your child, even before transition begins, about what a job is like through incidental teaching.
    • While in a grocery store, speak of the person doing the dairy isle. The person must lift up to one gallon of milk over and over, the person's hands will be cold, the person needs to identify dates and all the things that go into that persons job.

Part 2
Doing the Transition Plan

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    Finding the expert transition team. When school based vocational transition begins, seek out the Vocational Expert on the Transition Team as soon as formal transition begins.
    • Share a synopsis of your observations with him or her.
    • Ensure that the Vocational Rehab person understands the importance of ongoing assessment, which is what you have been doing all along.
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    The sequence of vocational transition should look like the following:
    • Formal assessment and testing at the time the transition begins
    • Using that assessment to develop goals.
    • Begin with job seeking and job keeping skills education.
    • Continue with job expectations such as wearing a uniform, that there are exceptions to routines, that breaks are time restricted, and that there are certain interpersonal requirements that involve other employees, the supervisor and potentially customers.
      • Much of the language is routine and can be learned specifically for a certain job such as "the bread is in isle four" or repeating back to the supervisor the directions to ensure clarity and understanding.
    • Continue on to job exposure by physically being in the environment of potential jobs and seeing what the social and physical environments are like.
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    Move on to job shadowing, which is following someone for a set period of time to observe how the person does the job.
    • Job shadowing is often done with in multiple settings over the course of time.

Part 3
Placing into a Job

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    Situational assessment: After, through job shadowing, some jobs are narrowed down, setting it up that the student can work with supervision (a job coach) to "try out" the job for a few days to a few weeks.
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    Work Experience: Like situational assessment, but for a longer period of time, and a stipend is factored in often by the job coach so that it becomes more real as a job with money involved.
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    Placing the student on a job that has been determined by all of the above, the student's abilities (fine and gross motor skills, endurance) and preferences.
    • These may be time limited, for example, like a summer job or an afternoon job for one semester.
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    Permanent Job Placement towards the end of transition.


  • Many job coaches have not gone through specific training to help autistic people. Therefore, your observed information will be of great help. You will see things in a potential job experience that will just not work for your child, and you will know why.
  • Retain a copy of every school or agency generated information regarding promises made, promises kept, and evaluations of your child's performance.
  • A job coach will, or should be, with your child from beginning to end of this whole sequence which takes the course of years. Although job coaches "fade out" once the job is mastered, they will continue to follow up to ensure skills retention and to resolve any issues that have arisen.
  • Goals must be set on needs, which are determined through assessment and testing. This is an ongoing process of assessment and then reassessment at a later time. If NO assessment is happening, something is very wrong.
  • Make sure there is a positive feedback loop for your child. Your child may not know that a job is well done unless you tell them, and even if they know, they can feel prouder when you confirm it.
  • During the initial phases, check to make sure the job coach is actually with your child. If not, they are of no benefit whatsoever.
  • Most students are concrete and visual. Therefore, the non concrete information must be conveyed to them via their support, the job coach.
  • Finding a job that works does not preclude your child from higher education.
  • Do not miss this opportunity of vocational rehabilitation even if you know your child will be going to college. You may never have the same resources again available to your child.


  • It is your perfect right to ask for a synopsis of work experience for the Vocational Expert and/or Job Coach to ensure they have the training to be able to assist your child with this rather complicated matter of vocational transition.
  • Do not settle for someone who states "Oh, I just want to help kids". That is not enough to serve your child well.
  • Knowing your child, ask for a task analysis for any given work experience or placement. If you see anything that would specifically cause meltdown or be dangerous for your child, call a Transitional Team Meeting to discuss your concerns.
  • In having done this with thousands of students, most really enjoy this process. If your child states "I HATE this", please listen. Something is wrong.
  • If your child has any allergies or food restrictions, make sure this is brought out in a team meeting and is recorded on the meetings permanent record

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Categories: Disability Issues