CA Dept. of Education


On Haitus

Secondary Issues Archive 2015-16


Linda Sanguinetti
Education Specialist

Linda Sanguinetti, M.A., is an Education Specialist at the Diagnostic Center- Northern California. She has twenty five years of special education teaching experience at the elementary and high school levels serving student with a variety of needs. Currently at the Diagnostic Center she participates in multidisciplinary assessment teams and works with several high school classrooms helping to implement evidence based practices. She also conducts trainings in the area of Transition.


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  • Transition to College and Becoming Independent


We were contacted at the SELPA regarding a high school student with a diagnosis of Asperger’s who appears to be panicking about moving on to college/being independent. The parents are at their wits' end and need some guidance.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.



Christina, this is an excellent question! Moving on to new environments (school, work, living arrangements) can be a scary thing. Current research shows that over one-third of young adults in their early 20’s did not get a job or continue education after high school. The findings for young adults on the autism spectrum are even higher than their peers with other disabilities. Less than 8% of young adults with a learning disability, emotional disturbance, or speech-language impairment were disconnected, compared to 37% of those with autism.

These statistics alone are enough to evoke panic in students, parents and teachers alike. I would like to refer you to a report completed in 2015 that addresses this very issue. The National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood is a 68 page report that covers a variety of transition-related outcomes for young adults on the autism spectrum including:

  • Transition Planning
  • Services
  • Adult outcomes and Disconnection
  • Health and mental Health
  • Postsecondary Education
  • Employment
  • Living Arrangements
  • Social and Community Participation
  • Safety and Risk

This report can be downloaded here.

Credits to authors:

Roux, Anne M., Shattuck, Paul T., Rast, Jessica E., Rava, Julianna A., and Anderson, Kristy,A. National Sutism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Life Course Outcomes Research Program, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, 2015.

I’m hoping that you will find this valuable tool helpful.


  • Student Portfolios


Where can I find helpful information about how to organize a transition student portfolio?


The Special Edge publication, which is published by Napa county Office of Education’s CalSTAT Project, wrote an excellent article in their Summer 2015 edition. This article entitled, “Successful Transition to Adult Life: Student Portfolios”, outlines how creating student transition portfolios is an excellent way to actively engage students in planning for their future. The portfolio serves as a:

  • Tool to break down the transition planning process into sizable chunks that are easier to manage
  • Tool that can be used to guide short focussed planning sessions with the student
  • Tool for students to showcase their accomplishments
  • Tool to document completed tasks leading the student closer to their goal

Creating a transition portfolio should be as individual as the student. It must be organized so that the student can readily access the information and understand how it related to them.
Several excellent websites were included in this article for exploration.  I am sharing a few and recommend that you take a look at the others:

Thank you for your question,

  • Triangulating Transition Goals


How do I tie a student’s Measurable Post-Secondary Goals with the California Standards and actual job skills?


Creating an annual goal that not only ties to the California Standards but also to a students’s Individual Transition Plan and Industry standards is a goal that does it all! This is referred to as Triangulating of Goals.

A great resource is O*Net Online .  This is an interactive/information site for career exploration and job analysis. O*Net Online has detailed descriptions of the world of work as well as inventories for your students to learn more about their own work preferences. It is free and available to anyone.

What I have found helpful is the ability to locate a specific job family that a student is interested in and have available the list of job skills needed. From there I like to highlight the skill or skills that my student needs to work on. For example, the job of an Animal Caretaker has many responsibilities:

  • Feed and water animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.
  • Mix food, liquid formulas, medications, or food supplements according to instructions, prescriptions, and knowledge of animal species
  • Examine and observe animals to detect signs of illness, disease, or injury.
  • Provide treatment to sick or injured animals, or contact veterinarians to secure treatment.
  • Do facility laundry and clean, organize, maintain, and disinfect animal quarters, such as pens and stables, and equipment, such as saddles and bridles.
  • Perform animal grooming duties such as washing, brushing, clipping, and trimming coats, cutting nails, and cleaning ears.
  • Answer telephones and schedule appointments
  • Respond to questions from patrons, and provide information about animals, such as behavior, habitat, breeding habits, or facility activities.
  • Order, unload, and store feed and supplies.
  • Collect and record animal information such as weight, size, physical condition, treatments received, medications given, and food intake.

By selecting a particular skill, or multiple skills, from this list that a student needs support with, numerous opportunities can be created within the classroom and at home in which to practice.

Skill: Answer telephones and schedule appointments

  • Answering classroom phone when it rings
  • Calling the office to give message
  • Scheduling hair, doctor, dentist, etc. appointments
  • Calling family members and friends
  • Planning times to meet with teacher for help
  • Asking questions
  • Phone etiquette
  • Listening skills

From there you can locate an appropriate California Standard (for example):

Grade 6: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

6.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate

While this may seem like a longer process, the goal that you write is one that is needed by the student, can be linked to a current career preference, and is also tied to the California Standards.

Thanks for your question.

  • Special Education Task Force


How does the Special Education Task Force report relate to older students?


In 2013, a team of educational leaders, teachers, parents and students formed a Statewide Special Education Task Force that focused on:

  • Identifying why students with disabilities were demonstrating poor school and postsecondary outcomes
  • Ascertaining the barriers to better performance
  • Making recommendations for how to make change
  • Determining a system of schooling so it would better serve all students

In summary:

Our current divided system of special education and general education needs to be revisited and restructured so that all students are served a high quality education within the general education setting. Services should be early, intensive, inclusive, and begin at the earliest sign of student need.

Specific to older students:

  • Student involvement: “students must be heard and included in decisions about their education in every way that is appropriate for their age and their ability. In school they must be given every opportunity to learn how to become independent adults”
  • Self-Determination: “clear and specific guidelines and reinforcement for student involvement in their own IEP meetings and student-led IEPs”
  • Coordination: “systems of cross-agency and community-based trainings that focus on collaborative, efficient, and effective services in a seamless delivery system that supports parents and students”
  • Access: “knowledge of technology and computers—which are now ubiquitous in schools, curriculum, and assessments and which have become essential for success in adult life as well as in school”

This report, “One System, Reforming Education to Serve all Students” can be read at the following link:

Thanks for your question.