Young graduate in wheelchair with his dad




Taking notes


Tips for Parents of College-Bound Students

All students applying to traditional degree programs are held to the same academic standards and procedures. While more and more colleges are accommodating students with disabilities, they are not covered by IDEA, therefore, students with disabilities need to advocate for accommodations they need because of their disability. They are not "entitled" to the services and support they get in high school. Instead, they must demonstrate that they are eligible for certain services and support. While a student with disabilities still has certain rights, as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, there are limits to what colleges are required to provide and adjust. However, programs do exist to help students with disabilities get accommodations and services to assist them to succeed in higher education.

Some services such as transportation from home to school and assistance with using the restroom or eating lunch are not required to be provided by colleges and universities under the ADA or Section 504. These services may be essential for your child to attend college. You many need to talk with Disabled Student Services and other students who have the same needs about creative solutions to meet these needs.

Visit for information on finding the right post-secondary institute.

Tips for Parents of Vocational Training and Employment-Bound Students

Encourage your child to develop the soft skills they need for success in every environment.  These skills include communication skills, interpersonal skills, decision-making skills, lifelong learning skills.  Parents can help youth develop these skills through modeling them, setting expectations, and through family activities.

Regardless of your child’s transition goal – continuing education or focusing on work, it is critical that they have identified a career interest. Even a tentative career focus provides the reason to pursue postsecondary goals. It is important to make connections between the vision of life after high school and postsecondary opportunities.  Making informed choices happens when the time is taken to explore all adult learning opportunities in your community (recreational programs, community education and on the job training options and volunteering, as well as formal learning opportunities through apprenticeships/internships; career-technical institutes, the community college and four year college systems).  It is critical for youth to understand their disability, explore the pros and cons of disability disclosure and their need for accommodations.

How to help your child prepare.

There are many steps parents can take to actively participate in their child's transition planning. For example:

  • First and foremost, foster independence and encourage your child to become involved in his/her IEP/ITP planning.

If your child is headed for college:

  • Talk about college, how it's different from high school and what will be expected.
  • Visit a college to help your child get "a feel" for the environment.
  • Encourage your child to take a college class while still in high school.

For more tips and ideas visit:

If your child is headed for other post-secondary training:

  • Explore with your child the options that are available for training in the area he/she would like to work; these may include a business school, vocational training program and various forms of on-the-job training opportunities
  • Visit the school/training program to help your child get "a feel" for the environment
  • If your child is a Regional Center or Department of Rehabilitation client, talk to the agency representatives about taking your child for a tour of the post-secondary facilities of interest.  Increasing numbers of Regional Center clients are developing entrepreneurial options for themselves.  Help your child learn more about all options as they set goals for their future.

If your child is headed for employment (and on-the-job training):

  • Talk to your child about how their schedule will differ when out of school
  • Discuss transportation options and make sure that your child has the skills and what is needed to get to their job (knowledge of public transportation, driver's license, vehicle, etc.).
  • Encourage your child to make the connections needed with their support staff if they are working with a job development agency.