Transition to adulthood, also known as secondary transition, is the process of preparing a teen for life after high school. This is a highly stressful time for parents since it is also known as the “service cliff”; whereby after graduation, individuals lose access to some of the services they had access to or qualified for while they were still in school.

A Medicaid waiver, which provides funding for services so an individual with a disability can remain at home despite family income, is perhaps the single biggest factor in obtaining services after high school. Services often play a key role in helping individuals with ASD find work and live more independently.

This page has non-state service options for secondary/adult transition. Please see our other page for STATE SERVICES.

Individualized Educational Program/Plan (IEPs): This is where it all starts with getting services through your school system. If you're on this page, you are hopefully already familiar with this headache-inducing tomb. It is a legally binding document with which the school must comply. Secondary transition services are federally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and must be provided for students with disabilities served through individualized education programs (IEP).  The transition process should start by age 16 or upon entering the 9th grade --whichever comes first. As a parent and member of your child's IEP team, you can call an IEP meeting at any time to discuss your concerns and questions. You are your child's best advocate. 

CHCCS Overview and Resources: In May 2021, Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools and SNAC created a website with a good overview of local resources in Chapel Hill. Although the website is challenging to navigate due to the side-bar menu, there is valuable information to be found for anyone in the triangle region.

From the CHCCS Website: Checklist

The following is a checklist of transition activities that you may wish to consider when preparing transition plans with the IEP Team.

Two to Three Years Before Leaving the School District
  • Identify community support services and programs (Vocational Rehabilitation, County Services, Centers for Independent Living, etc.).
  • Invite adult service providers, peers, and others to the IEP transition meeting.
  • Match career interests and skills with vocational course work and community work experiences.
  • Gather more information on post-secondary programs and the support services offered; and make arrangements for accomodations to take college entrance exams.
  • Identify health care providers and become informed about sexuality and family planning issues.
  • Determine the need for financial support (Supplemental Security Income, state financial supplemental programs, Medicare).
  • Learn and practice appropriate interpersonal, communication, and social skills for different settings (employment, school, recreation, with peers, etc.).
  • Explore legal status with regards to decision making prior to age of 18.
  • Begin a resume and update it as needed.
  • Practice independent living skills, e.g., budgeting, shopping, cooking, and housekeeping.
  • Identify needed personal assistance services, and if appropriate, learn to direct and manage these services.

One Year Before Leaving the School District
  • Apply for financial support programs. (Supplemental Security Income, Independent Living Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Personal Assistant Services).
  • Identify the post-secondary school you plan to attend and arrange for accomodations.
  • Practice effective communication by developing interview skills, asking for help, and identifying necessary accomodations at post-secondary and work environments.
  • Specify desired job and obtain paid employment with supports as needed.
  • Take responsibility for arriving on time to work, appointments, and social activities.
  • Assume responsibility for health care needs (making appointments, filling and making prescriptions, etc.).
  • Register to vote and register for selective service (if male).

From the CHCCS Website: Guardianship
Guardianship is a legal relationship created where a person or institution is named in a will or assigned by the court to take care of minor children or incompetent adults

Different Types of Guardianship:
  • General Guardianship: Appointed as both Guardian of the Person and Guardian of the Estate
  • Guardianship of the Person: Appointed solely for the purpose of performing duties relating to care, custody, and control
  • Limited Guardianship Tailored to fit the individual in the areas in which assistance with decision making is needed
  • Interim Guardianship Appointed when there is an imminent or foreseeable risk of harm to the individual or their estate
  • Website for more information on guardianship alternatives:
  • Guardianship (Applying for General Guardianship - Orange Co.)

Applying for Guardianship: You will need to acquire the following documents:
  • Complete the "Petition for Adjudication of Incompetence and Application for Appointment of Guardian or Limited Guardian".
    • Please remember that the parent is the petitioner, not a medical professional, this is particularly applicable in Section 5, where information about facts that illustrate incompetence are needed.
    • A separate doctor's note on professional letterhead that claims your child as being incompetent.
  • Once the “Petition” and doctor’s note have been completed, call and schedule an appointment with Deputy Clerk at the Orange County Courthouse.
    • The deputy clerk's direct number is (919) 644-4536 for Orange County
    • Once a hearing is scheduled, a Guardian Ad Litem will be assigned by the Clerk to the Individual.
  • There will be a $120 filing fee.

From the CHCCS Website: College
Thinking about post-secondary education, wonderful! There are several good options in the state: 
  • Alamance Community College: ACC welcomes the opportunity to accommodate students with special needs. Admissions procedures, documentation requirements, and available services are found through a link on Blackboard established with the Office of Disability Services. Students with special needs should contact the disability services counselor, Monica Isbell at (336) 506-4130.
  • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro supports students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a four-year certificate course of study. The Beyond Academics program is a nonprofit partner of the university that provides support and services for enrolled students For more information, visit the ODS website at or contact the office directly at (336) 334-5751.
  • Appalachian State University AS-U-R Program, As-U-R is a student support program that provides a variety of services and resources to students who struggle with academic tasks such as organization, planning, and judgment. 
  • Aspiring Aspies, L.L.C. private coaching service for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are in a higher education setting.
  • College STAR (Supporting Transition Access and Retention: A UNC System Initiative Supporting Students with Learning Differences) is a grant-funded project that is enabling participating universities in the UNC System to partner in the development of initiatives focused on helping campuses become more welcoming of students with learning differences. These initiatives include both students and faculty, and are intended to support students who have identified Learning Disabilities, diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or students who do not have a disability label but who may benefit from instructional understandings and strategies designed for students who learn differently from what is typical. 
  • Compensatory Education at Durham Technical Community College: The Compensatory Education classes serve adults diagnosed with an intellectual disability or functioning on a level equivalent to an intellectual disability resulting from a head injury.  CED offers instruction in language, math, social science, community living, consumer education, health and more. These courses are offered free of charge in both Durham and Orange counties. Compensatory Education has a specific curriculum and computer-aided instruction is available in all classrooms. To be eligible to participate in the Compensatory Education program an individual must be diagnosed with an intellectual disability or function on a level equivalent resulting from a head injury. To obtain a schedule of classes or for information about the course content, registration, or placement into classes, please call 919-536-7218, ext. 3104.
  • East Carolina University, Project STEPP in Greenville, NC. Program STEPP's (Supporting Transition and Education through Planning and Partnerships) mission is to provide students with learning disabilities who aspire to achieve a college education and demonstrate the potential for postsecondary success with access and comprehensive support throughout the university experience. 
  • Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job.  For eligible youth at least 16 years of age while in high school, Job Corps provides the all-around skills needed to succeed in a career and in life.

From the CHCCS Website: Transportation

Chapel Hill Transit- EZ Rider Services: EZ Rider (paratransit service) is a demand-response, shared ride service providing origin-to-destination (generally means door to door) service on an advance reservation basis. EZ Rider transports individuals who are unable to use the fixed route system (some or all of the time) due to a disability in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EZ Rider uses lift-equipped vehicles serving the Town of Chapel Hill, the Town of Carrboro and surrounding areas within ¾ of a mile of the fixed-route bus system. 

EZ Rider may be able to provide temporary service to customers who are not able to use the bus system due to a change in physical ability or bus service. To see if you qualify for temporary access to EZ-Rider, call: 919.969.4920.

Certification Eligibility
All EZ Rider customers must be certified to use the service. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. According to ADA regulations, eligibility is strictly limited to those who have a permanent or temporary physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and prevents them from using fixed route services.  Eligible customers must complete an application. The application must be completed by you and your medical provider. You can obtain an application by calling EZ Rider at (919) 969-4920 or click the following link

From the CHCCS Website: Lived Experiences
During the 2020-2021 Pandemic, caregivers recorded their 'lived experiences' with transitioning to adulthood. If you're looking for even more information (and made it this far!), it's worth watching. Click here for the parent interviews. 

All content © 2021 by Chapel Hill Autism Resources and Tools (C.H.A.R.T.)

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