The power and positive impact of HIGH EXPECTATIONS!


Moving from disability to possibility challenges families, students and teachers to do more than assume that a disability sets limits. Youth with disabilities should expect to be successful! It is of course appropriate to acknowledge the impact of a youth's disability but it is equally important to be involved in planning for their future based on high expectations.

  • Parents provide the foundation. Families must support youth in deciding what is important to him/her. Set examples of building on student’s interests and focus on successes.
  • Encourage youth to be their BEST. It is not enough for students to be the focus of planning, they must have the ability to really participate in making decisions about their lives and future. It is never too early to begin teaching children to make choices and responsibility.

Remember this time is one full of emotions for families. Parents may find it challenging to begin the “planning for the future” process because it can be emotionally difficult to face some of the issues involved.

Click here to read "High Expectations - A MOST Valuable Tool" from the National Parent Center on Transition and Employment

EXPLORE what IS possible!


Parents are the experts on their children and can help to create a vision for their future based on their maximum potential for success (the High Expectations discussed in previous section)!

  • Teams must find a balance between the high expectations and the challenges posed by the disability and/or the constraints of the systems within which individuals must function.
  • Parents and educators are encouraged to broaden their vision by learning about new possibilities and seeking available supports.
  • Students can create a vision of their life after high school by answering key questions.

Parents who effectively advocate for their child with a disability can positively impact their transition outcomes! Effective parent advocates:

  • Understands their child’s disability
  • Knows key team players as well as their own role, rights and responsibilities
  • Communicates clearly and directly – persistent, flexible and positive (assertive not aggressive)
  • Works in partnership as a team member, asks questions and knows how to resolve disagreements

Self-Advocacy means taking responsibility for communicating one’s needs and desires. It is an important tool for increasing self-sufficiency, independence and achieving goals! Support student self-advocacy skills!

Put High Expectations into PRACTICE!


Use your voice – Expectations must translate into actions and transition planning is a place to do that.

Gain Investment – Don’t just think it –INK IT! Writing expectations and goals help create sense of commitment.

Give youth real opportunities to express interests and participate in making decisions.

Become involved and take steps to move forward – even small steps keep us moving forward!

LIVING AND RECREATION - An important part of adult life!


When “Living” is discussed as an area of transition planning, most often the place where the young person will reside comes to mind. Of course that is a critical piece to the plan, however so is what the young person will do for fun or social connections. Staying active and connected contributes to physical and emotional health.

Click here to read some "Tips when considering housing and services"

For another good resource , check out "Talk to your child about independent living - A parent's Checklist"

Caring for personal needs is obviously a very important part of daily life. Youth with disabilities are no exception, but to maximize independence some may need to consider supports and plan for accommodations when transitioning to adulthood.

Click for A Toolkit for managing your own Personal Assistance Services from the National Collaborative Workforce and Disability

Just like learning and working, playing or RECREATION is an individualized activity. What may be fun and relaxing for one person, could cause anxiety for another. Including youth in this part of transition planning is a MUST -- EVERYONE knows what is fun for them! One example of a place in the Des Moines area where social and physical activities happen is Courage League Sports where "EveryBODY deserves to PLAY"!

More Resources and Links for Youth and the people supporting them


Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council

Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation - Centers for Independent Living

National Parent Center on Transition and Employment

Youth as Self Advocates