ERIC Identifier: ED282093
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Kerka, Sandra
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult
Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Parents' Role in Transition for Handicapped Youth. Overview.
ERIC Digest No. 62.
Parents have a major influence on their children's attitudes toward
work and life. Many studies have recognized the effect of parental influence on
educational and career decisions (Naylor, 1986). Handicapped youth, who have
more difficulty than other youth in making the transition from school to work
and adult life, have a special need for parental guidance.
Transition can be defined as a systematic process to establish and implement
a plan for the employment or additional training of a handicapped adolescent
(Sitlington, 1986). This digest discusses the key roles parents can play in
transition, especially in the areas of career exploration, job search and
survival, independent living skills, and collaboration with educators and other
service providers. It is based primarily upon the three parent guides in the
CORRIDORS TO CAREERS (Izzo, Kopp, and Liming, 1986).
ROLES IN CAREER EXPLORATION
Parents sometimes overestimate the effects of a disability on their child's
ability to accomplish a task. Lacking information about the requirements of
specific occupations, they may rule out certain jobs as impossible. The process
of career exploration involves learning more about individual limitations and
strengths and about the requirements of various entry-level occupations,
assessing individual interests, and matching interests and abilities with
appropriate potential occupations.
Izzo, Kopp, and Liming (1986) describe some career exploration activities in
which parents and handicapped youth can share. These include the following:
--Identify famous people who have achieved success despite their disability.
--Use checklists to identify the adolescent's personal qualities, capabilities,
and ideal working conditions. Gather information from teachers, counselors, and
close relatives as well. --Find out about interest surveys and aptitude tests
that a trained professional can administer. --Find out about appropriate
training options, such as high school vocational education, vocational
rehabilitation, apprenticeships, 2-year or technical colleges, and supported or
sheltered employment. --Learn about work site modifications that may be needed
to accommodate a disability.
ROLES IN JOB SEARCH AND SURVIVAL
Parents can demonstrate the techniques of finding job leads, beginning with
the help wanted ads. Before using them, abbreviations and terms that may be
encountered should be explained; the adolescent can practice selecting an ad and
explaining why the job is or is not desirable or appropriate. Other sources of
leads include the telephone directory, school job placement office, state
employment office, Rehabilitation Services Agency, private and temporary
employment agencies, door-to-door canvassing, and job clubs.
Parents can assist in the preparation of a good resume by helping the
adolescent think of accomplishments; by checking the information for accuracy
and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation; and by helping to identify
persons who might give references. They might collect sample application forms
from local businesses for practice in filling out application forms and
preparing letters of application. Parents can also ensure that all the necessary
documents (birth certificate, social security card, and so on) have been
To make their child comfortable with interviewing, parents can describe what
happens during the process, can review strategies for success, and can assist in
practicing responses to difficult questions. A mock interview can be conducted
and the performance can be rated on such aspects as grooming and appearance, eye
contact, poise, manners, enthusiasm, and so forth.
For handicapped youth, the most sensitive part of an interview is talking
about their disability. Making the interviewer comfortable with the situation,
stressing abilities, and responding positively about accommodations or
modifications are ways of dealing with this area. Parents and youth should also
be aware of the legal rights of handicapped workers as established by the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Developing good work habits is essential to job survival. Through discussion
and role playing, parents can stress the importance of following directions,
being on time, taking pride in one's work, getting along with others, coping
with problems, dressing appropriately, communicating clearly, being motivated,
showing a willingness to learn, and demonstrating commitment to the occupation.
ROLES IN INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS
The final step in the transition process is learning to live independently.
Survival skills help adults cope with change, meet daily needs, and face
challenges. Parents can begin by identifying those independent living skills
already gained as well as those that need to be developed. A list of skills and
appropriate activities follows.
--Consider the specific disability, available community resources, and the
individual situation (home location, financial resources) --Evaluate the
alternatives (bus, carpool, own car, bicycle, walking) according to
availability, cost, and reliability. --Practice using available transportation.
First, parents can plan outings, then have their child guide them on an outing,
and next have the child attempt a solo trip.
HOUSING AND HOME MANAGEMENT
--Explore housing options, evaluating types, functions, costs, advantages,
and disadvantages. Visit realtors, apartment managers, social service agencies,
and group homes. --Build the adolescent's home management skills by assigning
regular household responsibilities. Evaluate the ability to keep records,
identify sources of assistance, conduct business matters, make basic repairs,
operate appliances safely, and use the right tools and products.
--Provide a weekly allowance to teach planning and budgeting. Evaluate the
ability to make change, write checks, establish credit, make purchasing
decisions, select insurance, and assess satisfactory service. --Have the
adolescent develop a budget based on projected income and expenses. Demonstrate
the use of banking services. Ensure the mastery of basic math skills needed for
--Explain the steps of problem solving and the differences between
responsible and irresponsible behavior. --Through structured activities, allow
the child to take responsibility for planning and problem solving, for example,
on a family vacation.
--Encourage the improvement of personal relations skills through
participation in family, school, community, and church activities. --Teach the
following assertiveness techniques: react with behavior instead of words; talk
directly to people whose actions affect you; talk about yourself realistically
but positively; and say no when appropriate. --Teach the following skills for
responding appropriately to insensitive people and situations: look for early
signs of insensitivity, recognize one's emotional reactions, count to 10 before
reacting, and choose an appropriate, constructive reaction.
COLLABORATION WITH SERVICE PROVIDERS
The Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be an effective tool for
coordinating the transition of special needs students. Schools are required by
law to involve parents in the IEP planning process. Parents can influence this
process by giving input at the initial meeting, monitoring and evaluating
progress, and making suggestions for modifications.
According to Izzo, Kopp, and Liming (1986), the IEP should do the following:
--Include a specific transition plan that ensures that services continue
after employment, contains precisely stated objectives and activities, and
involves employers, rehabilitation and employment counselors, and other
community-based personnel in the transition team. --Focus on functional living
skills by integrating instruction in reading, writing, and math with independent
living skills. --Include one school-supported work experience. Parents can
suggest employers who may be willing to hire their adolescent for a paid or
nonpaid position that is monitored by the school.
Parents should obtain the rules and regulations guiding the implementation of
the IEP. They can request periodic reports from the school about their child's
progress in meeting the objectives and can initiate changes in the plan to deal
with problems that arise.
PARENTS AS ROLE MODELS
In all of the transition areas discussed, parents are important role models.
Their children form opinions about the value of work, different careers, and
self-worth from what they observe their parents saying and doing. Parents
demonstrate survival skills in day-to-day living. Sharing the strategies they
use to solve problems, their feelings about particular issues, and why and how
they pursue certain hobbies or find information are ways that parents can help
their children learn survival techniques. The examples parents present their
children may be their most important role in the transition process.
This ERIC digest is based on the following publication:
Izzo, M.V., K.Kopp, and R. Liming. CORRIDORS TO CAREERS. A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
AND DISABLED YOUTH. Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational
Education, The Ohio State University. Omro, WI: Conover Company, 1986.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Naylor, M. FAMILY INFLUENCES ON EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION. ERIC Digest no. 56.
Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, The
National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University,
1986. ED 272 702.
Sitlington, P.L. TRANSITION, SPECIAL NEEDS, AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.
Information Series no. 309. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and
Vocational Education, The National Center for Research in Vocational Education,
The Ohio State University, 1986. ED 272 769.