Transition Planning

What is Transition?

Over the past few years the concept and process of Transition Planning has become more prominent as individuals with acquired and congenital disabilities begin to age. It is becoming more apparent that thoughtful transition planning is critical for quality of life across the lifespan of individuals with medical conditions and developmental disabilities.  The process of transition planning is a very individualized process and should be developed with consideration of the individual’s needs as well as their strengths.  Preparing a transition plan is not a one-size fits all process.

The concept of transition planning is constantly improving due to ongoing research in this field which impacts the changing views of educators and policy makers.  Listed below are resources related to transition planning

What is Transition Planning?

Advancing into adulthood can present challenges for most young people in some aspect of life.  However, for a young person with a disability, this process may be even more challenging and requires advance planning in order to bring together all of the people and services that directly involve this young person and every aspect of their life. For young people with disabilities, this process is called “transition planning.” 

What is the Goal of Transition Planning?

Transition planning should be individualized based on the strengths and needs of each person.  The overall goal of transition planning to make sure the young person has the skills and tools necessary to make choices about their own life and their long term goals.  The 5 domains of transition planning that should be addressed are: 

1) Community Participation

2) Education

3) Employment

4) Healthcare

5) Independent Living


The overall process of transition planning usually requires involvement from the young person’s parents, family members, teachers, therapists, agencies, and doctors.  A solid transition plan can support the notion of self-determination, self-advocacy, and foster independence.  Transition Planning goals should be: 

  • Measurable and outcome-oriented
  • Based on the young person’s needs as well as their strengths, preferences and interests that will promote productivity
  • Supported through instruction, training, and tools such as assistive technology
  • Support the continuity of medical/health care that would include areas such as:  communication; mental (emotional) health and well-being; mobility; critical thinking/problem solving skill

When Does Transition Planning Begin?

Transition planning can start as early as necessary, but should not begin any later than 16 years of age.  The process is typically initiated through the young person’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) through their IEP team and the school system. This process is supported by federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  More information about IDEA and the law specific to transition services can be found at the U.S. Department of Education  or through your young person’s IEP team, her/his teachers, or through your regional or intermediate school district’s special education department.


Transition Resources

Community Participation




Independent Living

The content of the following information is divided into the 5 domains of Transition Planning as well as additional categories related to transition-age adolescences and young adults with disabilities. (Note: Transition Planning should be an individualized process and therefore, the following resources are not necessarily endorsed by the University of Michigan or the Collaboratory for Technology, Health, and Independence.)