Transitions are changes that occur throughout life, including new classrooms, homes, support personnel and employment opportunities. For individuals with severe disabilities, transitions can be challenging. To be successful within transitions we need to ensure generalization of communication skills across settings, activities and communicative partners. Transitions can introduce new demands and communicative partners, creating the need for assistance from an individual’s circle of support. A person-centered plan for approaching and facilitating transitions includes knowledge of the changes that the individual will experience such as new contexts, communication partners, and goals. The creation of a transition plan requires input from the individual and their interprofessional team.
Individuals with severe disabilities may be communicating more successfully in one context than another. For example, there are times when an individual demonstrates communication skills at home, but does not use those skills at school (or in a work setting) or vice versa. To assist with generalization of skills, communication opportunities and training should occur across partners and settings. Communication services and supports can be provided using a holistic approach to meeting the communication-related needs of individuals with severe disabilities rather than the traditional approach of providing interventions within isolated treatment contexts.
Careful planning for all transitions can ensure that an individual's communication skills are supported and that new skills continue to develop. All transitions provide opportunities for skills to be developed, adapted, and generalized.
Return to the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities (NJC) topic areas list.