Transitions: Diploma and Services

Posted By on July 10, 2013


Alex and Jack working on college homework

I appreciate the feedback from my first blog. I really hope that others will post comments so that this can be interactive. Please share your experiences as we can all learn from each other. Ask questions too. This is probably the most difficult transition as there are a lot of decisions and choices but resources and options can be more limited. There continues to be a lot of focus on early intervention and while I have read a lot of articles about the need for services and support as our kids’ transition out of high school, I have not found many practical options.  Janet and Dan are truly visionary and in my experience parents are the ones that have to create the opportunities.


Working on the trailer

I did touch briefly on the topic of diploma vs. certificate of completion and services. A diploma just terminates the school district’s responsibility but there are many students who get a diploma and then can access Golden Gate Regional Center Services if they have qualified or perhaps another agency depending on diagnosis.  I believe the most important factor in this decision is really about goals and expectations post high school.  The transition IEP and planning should really start at age 16 if not sooner. Very important that you have an awareness of not just cognitive functioning but level of independence. I really encourage you to also seek out employment opportunities or non paid internships while your adolescent is in high school so you can evaluate level of independence and what type of support if any will be needed.   Determine your son/daughter’s interest and seek out an opportunity. I found an internship for my son at a local record/CD store as he knows a lot about music. The owner was a friend of a friend and at first was not sure but now 2 years later really appreciates our son.  C also worked for my company which although was not optimal was a great way for me to assess his skills and determine structure for him to be successful.  C worked very hard and was a lot more independent then I thought he would be and got along with everyone.  My staff asked for him to come back the next summer. I chose instead to have him participate in Autistry Employment Program which is much better for C to gain his own independence.  He and Ian have completed building a trailer and are now working on a shed commissioned by a customer.  I will share more in my next blog on the critical employment skills being developed there.

The most important take away for you when evaluating a diploma is really just to be sure you have an appropriate plan after high school.  If they are no longer eligible for services after high school can they attend a community college or any university on their own? Or can you afford to privately pay for some of the programs that are out there to help our kids’ transition? Golden Gate Regional Services will assist with some of these programs if the school district is no longer providing services.


Noah air nails his parcour vaulting horse.

I have talked to too many parents who are not looking beyond graduation from high school as working so hard to help son/daughter earn the diploma.  I am really encouraging you to have a balanced look at your son/daughter’s overall skill and what will be needed post high school to continue to develop and be successful.   A diploma is great and a worthy goal if it makes sense for the student.  Be sure you are working with your school district on an appropriate transition IEP. You need to be strategic with your future planning.


About The Author

I am a a parent of a 20 year old with autism. I have been very active in our community. I started a baseball and basketball league for children and adolescents with special needs. I was one of the founders of It Takes a Village. I also served as a trustee on the Mill Valley School board and now participate in an advisory committee on special education.


3 Responses to “Transitions: Diploma and Services”

  1. paula granucci says:

    Hi Janet. Thanks for another insightful blog post. Your ideas are a good kick in the rear to look beyond today for our kid”s future needs. It’s good to see that C is doing well.


  2. Janet Miller says:

    Thanks Paula. If you have any suggestions for topics let me know. Hope you are all doing well.

  3. Kristen says:

    Hi Janet,
    Your blog posts have been very helpful to me. My son is going
    into High School this fall & we are having the toughest time
    deciding between Certif. of Completion and Diploma. They are putting
    a lot of pressure on us to decide now!