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Psychological services for internationally adopted children
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Individual Transition Plan Preparation
for Your Internationally Adopted Teenager

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need an appointment?
call 845-596-6711
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A lot of internationally adopted children in
schools are now between 14 and 18 years old.
Many have an educational classification - a designation of educational handicap - and an Individual Educational Program (IEP).

According to the major federal law IDEA-2004, they are entitled to benefit from district-based education until their 22nd birthday or until obtaining a standard high school diploma. Additionally, by the age of 16, the children with IEP are required to have and will greatly benefit from an Individual Transition Plan.

At the BGCenter we provide this service: we create an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) for internationally adopted children in the age group 14-18. Their ITP can be a part of a comprehensive developmental, vocational, and psycho-educational evaluation, or it can be a standalone document, based on the current IEP and additional vocational assessment.

An ITP has the following structure:

1. Introduction/Family Vision Statement
2. Developmental history of the student
3. Results of most recent cognitive, academic, and social/emotional assessments
4. Vocational evaluation and development of vocational goals
5. Independent living goals
6. Post-secondary education goals
7. Conclusion/Summary

Individual Transition Plan created at BGCenter is a powerful document that will guide you and support your teenager in preparation for the adult life. Together with this document, Dr. Gindis provides a consultation and guidance on how to connect with the appropriate state agencies and school district.

The transition process is mandated by law, but the family needs to take several important steps:

1. Begin preparation for transitioning of your child to adult life early on

Having special educational needs, IA children may have a specific mental and psychosomatic "profile" that needs to be taken into consideration when preparing for transitioning.

  • They may have a distinct neurologically based disorder related to their pre- and post-birth adverse conditions, such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Autism. In most cases, however, this is a generalized (undifferentiated) weakness of Central Nervous System that reveals itself in sensory-motor disintegration, emotional reactivity and rigidity, dis-regulated attention and concentration, and host of "soft" neurological signs.
  • The children might have an exposure to severe neglect, abuse, and deprivation in early, most formative years of their life, which mediated their development and lead to what is known as Developmental Trauma Disorder. Among most prominent characteristics of children affected with DTD are "mixed maturity" (delays in self-regulation of emotions and behavior), hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal, emotional fragility/oversensitivity, and cumulative delays in cognitive/ academic functioning in comparison with age norms and expectations.
  • The children who were adopted at school age, had to overcome a range of atypical problems, such as an abrupt loss of their first language; a specific mode of the English language learning, a social/cultural/educational deprivation that resulted in adjustment difficulties to the new social/cultural environment and more advanced educational system.
  • And, finally, IA children have to deal with the specific adoption issues (abandonment syndrome, attachment difficulties, negative self-perception, etc.), which create an overall negative emotional background for learning and socialization.

The overall consequence of the adverse conditions that IA children have to overcome is the need to begin the transition planning for them much earlier than at the mandated 16: they need more time to prepare; they are intimidated by the unknowns of the future; often have low self-esteem and motivation to achieve. The parents must set the stage for transition, working on developing the necessary and applicable skills from the time when their child is young. Self-confidence develops only when there are actual achievements to base it on, and those, no matter how small, come through consistent and intense learning, training, and the acknowledgment of success. Early on the IA children need to be led into activities where they will be reasonably capable to succeed and stay in; they can't be left with the task of selecting such activities by themselves later - that is the responsibility of the family.

By 16 the student's IEP must include measurable post-secondary goals and transitional services. At this point, your teenagers need already have some ideas about what they are good at, what they want and can do, and which college or vocational training institution they need to go to accomplish their goals. The years of previous training and skill development are the basis for this decision - do not rely on school in directing your child towards certain occupations: there were 168 hours in a week; 35 hours were spent in school and 133 hours at home, and they should not have been wasted.

2. Understand and manage educational documentation

All students with special needs are getting either a standard diploma or a certificate that has different titles in different states. Work with your child to avoid having a certificate if you have in mind a post-secondary occupational training or college. HS diploma is needed practically for all forms of after-school training or education.

Depending of your child's level of functioning, you may develop Plan A (college) and Plan B (occupational training). You need to be informed that more than 80% of 2-year and 4-year colleges in the US have offices for students with learning disabilities requiring different levels of accommodations for educational and physical handicaps. Moreover, there are two post-secondary educational institutions (Beacon College in Florida or Landmark College in Vermont) that specialize on working with students with different learning disabilities.

Your selection of college, among other things, will depend on the "fit" between your child's need for support and accommodations the college is able to provide. Understand the difference between IEP and 504 Plan: IEP contains a designation of disability, the methodologies to remediate disability, and the management procedures for addressing it through remedial instructions, accommodations, and related support services, while 504 Plan is just a range of accommodations suitable for post-secondary education (or occupational training). However, IEP ends with the graduation ceremony at High School, and colleges and trade schools accept only 504 Plan.

Assuming that your child graduates with regular diploma, carefully examine their most recent IEP to see how to convert it into a 504 plan. This is your way to insure that the accommodations continue in the post-secondary environment under the protection of the Americans with Disability Act. Remember, this is to be done while your child is still in high school, prior to graduation. Before taking your child off the IEP, you should request the document called Summary of Performance (SOP). This document is a comprehensive presentation analysis of your child's academic and cognitive strengths and weaknesses at the moment when the IEP ends and the accommodation plan of the 504 begins. In a college of your choice, visit the office of disability and confirm with a counselor there that your child's 504 Plan is consistent with the college requirements. Make revisions in the plan if necessary.

3. Teach the child self-advocacy

In high school your teenager should concentrate on a set of skills called "self-advocacy". Again, do not rely completely on the school even when self-advocacy is a written goal in your child's IEP - you have to do your part in building of this skill. Ask yourself: does my child fully understand his/her disability, is he/she able to explain it and request due help and support? Talk with your teenagers about their strengths (what do they do well) and the extent of their disability (what is difficult for them to do). You need to teach (direct instructions, role playing, etc.) your youngster the words to use about what they can and cannot do. With enough practice, they will learn to speak from the position of strength, not embarrassment, and they will communicate with confidence.



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