So here's the summary of how the transition process works (here in my area, at least). Approximately six months before your child turns three a transition meeting is scheduled. You meet with your Early Childhood Service Coordinator and a representative from your local school district's special education program. (In our case our Parents as Teachers teacher was also there to give information about our specific school.) The purpose of the meeting is to familiarize you with the steps involved in transitioning from Early Childhood Services to School-Age services and to get your signature on a bunch of forms that allows the school district to talk to a variety of people (your early childhood SLP, OT, any preschool teachers you might have, any doctors that might have pertinent information, etc.).
The process, as I understand it, will go like this: About three months before Ava's third birthday I will take her to be evaluated. I will find out on that day if she will qualify for services. If she does not qualify, she will continue to get services through Early Intervention until the day before her third birthday and then it will be my responsibility to arrange (and pay for) any services I feel she might still need at that time. If she does qualify, we will hold an IEP meeting within 30 days of the evaluation to decide what services she will receive once she turns three. Then, when she turns three she will begin to receive those services.
Potential service options will be individual speech or OT sessions, a special preschool program, or both. If we get individual therapy sessions, instead of coming to our home we would bring her to our local school for those appointments. If the IEP team decides the preschool program is appropriate we would bring her to school either two or four days a week. If she gets both, the SLP and or OT would see her in the preschool classroom or possibly pull her out of class for therapy.
Because Ava's birthday is in March, there is a final twist. The IEP team might decide that it is too close to the end of the school year to transition her at that time. If so, the schools would contract with her current early childhood therapists and pay them to continue to see her until the fall.
Everyone at the meeting was very professional and extremely nice. They seemed genuinely interested in Ava and her best interests. They seemed to understand her specific issues (speech and sensory) and how they interact and effect her life. They seemed to want to help. Now we just have to wait and see how the evaluation goes and if she will qualify.
So, in summary, the transition process looks like this:
- Hold transition meeting (6 months before 3rd birthday).
- Have child evaluated by school district (3 months before 3rd birthday).
- If child qualifies, hold IEP meeting (2 months before 3rd birthday).
- Transition from getting services from early childhood to getting services from school district (on 3rd birthday).