Planning Goals for 2018-2019
If we have never been to the place we are going, how do we know we are taking the right road to get there?
As the new school year arrives, we will focus our attention on our sons and daughters IEP goals and objectives and evaluate the progress they are making throughout the year.
We should constantly ask and evaluate, "How is this goal helping my son or daughter be independent?" Do we have the right information to evaluate if this particular goal is going to benefit them in the future? Is this goal leading them towards independence?
We are on a journey, how do we know what we put in the IEP today is going to be of value in the future? These questions are paramount! This is backwards design, we should begin with the end in mind.
As I sit and write this article, there is a moment of hesitation before I begin sharing my thoughts on this topic because I sound like I am repeating myself over and over. The reason I do this is because I spend a significant amount of time talking with parents and learning about what our graduates are doing. Then, I think to myself, "Maybe I am not saying it enough?"
My sister is a high functioning person with Down Syndrome. She lives in a group home and they have a rich social life built in. She has a part-time job, and she has a place to go every day when that job does not give her enough hours. She also has something to do socially every day. If she loses her job, her social life stays intact.
What were the academics that she needs to function today that she was learning when she was pre-22? What really mattered? Did we put our time and energy into developing the right skills? We would never invest in stocks if we thought that they would not give us a return on our investment in the future, why would we think any differently about our goals and objectives in the IEP?
My parents wished that my sister was more independent when she turned 22. They invested their money in the wrong stocks for many years, and the return on independence did not yield what they expected. They were going down a road, but they didn't know where they were going because they couldn't picture the future. If they could talk to you today, they would tell you they would have done things differently. When a parent of a graduate calls me for help, I never hear, "If they only had more of this specific academic skill or more minutes in a specific service delivery," No, what I hear is, "They don't have any friends, they are not working, what do we do? Are there places we can go, resources we can get?
I implore you...first, think Social Social, Social! Secondly, think Independence, Independence, Independence, and lastly, think Job, Job, Job. This all equals Happy, Happy, Happy. Isn't this what we all want for our children. For most families the only thing that gets in our way is Fear, Fear, Fear.
Parents and guardians, this year I am asking you to add one goal to your personal family IEP that is a "Special needs Planning goal." This is just as important as any goal or objective on your child's IEP. Maybe the IEP should include a special needs planning goal for the parents and guardians and we should meet every year to make sure you have planned for the future. It is in the best interest of all family members and siblings. If you are not informing and planning now, you are going to leave someone else with the job of having to do this.
It doesn't matter if your son or daughter is in pre-school or high school, setting goals for planning is incredibly important. The sooner you get started the less stressful your future will be. I am speaking for every parent that says to me, "I wish we started planning earlier, or I wish I knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently." This is why I get over my hesitation of writing these articles on this topic. It is what motivates me to write these articles for the benefit of all our parents. I need to be that person who is constantly reminding you.
What planning goals could you set for your family? Here is a list of some goals you can think about. This list is very general and can be modified depending on the age of your child, we may recommend one or all of them.
You can always reach out to me for advice and guidance. I am passionate about special needs planning for the future. I have met with many parents just to discuss planning, this is what LABBB is here for.
1. Attend a Transition Conference
2. Get more information about Guardianship
3. Attend a parent group.
4. Make a document with all the information about your son or daughter. Including telephone numbers, addresses and key contact people which can inlcude:
- Financial advisors
- Go to a housing conference or talk with LABBB partners at TILL.
5. Talk with family members about your son or daughters future. What do you see them doing when they graduate or turn 22.
6. Visit an adult service agency.
7. What is one life skill that your son or daughter could learn at home so when they are ready to live independently they will be able to do it.
8. Set up a time to meet with me to discuss special needs planning.
9. Read a book about special needs planning.
10. If your son or daughter receives SSI, set up an ABLE Account.
11. Network with other parents who have been through the transition to adulthood and independent living with their son or daughter with special needs.
12. Attend LABBB's second annual Transition Fair.
We are looking forward to a productive and fullfillng 2018-2019 year!