How I Navigated My Child’s Transition: PJ Nein
Family Snapshot: My name is PJ Nein, my husband and I have been together for 40 years and we have five children: One biological child, three adopted children with special needs, and we are helping to raise my friend’s daughter.
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Our Transition Experience: Three of our children/adults are in vocational training. Michael’s (oldest child) transition into vocational rehab services went very well. During the last three years of high school, he was able to go to various places around town to find a training program that worked best for him. He got to go to Goodwill, Ephrata Area Rehab Services, and then Lighthouse Vocational Services. All three of these places run day programs. After he decided which place he liked best, we simply waited for an opening. He enjoyed Lighthouse Vocational Services, and every morning, a public transportation bus would come and pick him up at the house. At the end of the day the bus would drop him back off at the house.
My daughter on the other hand, who is also at Lighthouse now and in her third year, didn’t have much of a transition at all. She somehow slipped through the cracks and didn’t get the vocational training she needed. She just didn’t have the opportunities that my other son had.
What happened was the school boards/districts changed, different rules transpired. They were in different districts. Back when Michael was in school, the intermediate units or the special education system oversaw that the kids got to go out and get transitioned into vocational rehab. They made sure every and all details associated with this transition got done.
In the meantime, until my daughter got to the same point in time, the school district had dropped the intermediate units and said, “No, we’re going to run our own classes.” The district, I wouldn’t say failed, but again, she just got lost in the shuffle.
Now, my youngest is 19 and I’m not going to let her slip through the cracks. I will make sure that she gets her vocational training. But hers is going to be a lot harder to do, because she has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. She also has a nurse that goes to school with her every day. So, I’m going to make sure there’s funding for a nurse through her waiver funding, and make sure that the agency can provide coverage to go with her to a job skill, a vocational rehab.
Regulations have changed frequestly in our state between when my middle child and oldest child went to school. My best advice would be have an advocate who has been through the system and have them be there with you during meetings. They can also give suggestions on what works and what does not work. You know your child best; stick with your gut feelings. Most of the time the teacher and the parent want the same thing: Success for your child.
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