Ultimately, a child with special needs is going to have to transition into the real world on or before his/her 21st birthday. The IDEA puts the onus on the local education agency (your school district) to prepare the child for life after high school until the s/he turns 21.
It is vital that, as a student with special needs approaches the time s/he leaves high school, preparations for adult life are well underway.
Some school districts will let any meaningful preparation fall by the wayside – just moving the child along to graduation, or to some glorified day care program. This is true especially if the parents of the child have not been educating themselves on the IDEA law, and not been fiercely advocating for their child throughout his or her primary and secondary schooling.
Research indicates that a robust and rigorous academicac program provided during the high school years, better prepares students, including those with lower achievement levels as compared to “typical” peers, to move on and achieve in postsecondary education (i.e. college, community college, or vocational schools). The reverse is true: students who are provided less challenging courses of study are significantly less prepared.
Parents must educate themselves and be active, strong participants in their children’s educational programming in order to give your kids the best chance for a successful and productive adult life.