Many high schools, especially public high schools, make the mistake of forcing special needs students into the general student body. In theory, this may seem like a good idea, but in reality, it can cause numerous problems.
The first problem special needs students often face is with their peers. The average teenager has not yet learned tolerance, and as a result, special needs children are often shunned and become loners during high school. Another big problem lies with teachers. Very few teachers in public high schools have more than basic knowledge about learning disabilities and the challenges they pose for students. Thus, rather than getting them the help they need, teachers often ignore them. As a result, when special needs students graduate from high school, they may not be properly prepared for college.
One of the best things that young adults with special needs can do is take advantage of a transition program. These programs are set up to fill in the gaps left by traditional high schools. The most important thing a transition program does is offer young adults with special needs the skills and confidence they need to enjoy an independent lifestyle.
It usually doesn’t take long for young adults with special needs to realize that a transition program is nothing like the public school system. Most transition programs are designed to act as a kind of stepping stone between high school and college. The best programs allow young adults with special needs to actually live on campus.
Part of the average transition program’s curriculum involves classwork; however, most students benefit more from what happens outside of the classroom. One of the first things that young adults with special needs will notice is that they no longer stand out, since they are surrounded by other students with special needs and learning disabilities. This gives them the confidence to develop and hone social skills. Transition programs encourage additional interaction by planning group outings and functions, and it usually doesn’t take long before shy young adults with special needs are interacting better with everyone, including individuals who don’t have special needs.
The main goal of transition programs is to give young adults with special needs the skills they need to live on their own. These schools spend a great deal of time helping students with things like handling personal finances, grocery shopping, finding appropriate housing and asking for help if they need it.