Starting with the End in Mind

Before we talk about the IEP Transition Plan or the assessments (evaluations) that help you create the IEP, let’s talk about the first step in transition planning, creating a vision beginning with the End in Mind.

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going to so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction. “

The end in mind is about deciding what your child would like their life to look like after high school. What is that destination? Does it look like a certain job? Does it look like a certain school? That’s a big question and one that takes a lot of thought. Having a vision for your child’s future, an idea of what the future may look like is the place to start to get to the end in mind. And remember, your child’s vision for their own life may be different than yours.

Starting with a vision lets the student, parents, educators, providers like vocational rehabilitation counselors, and others come to IEP meetings prepared and ready to talk about how to carry out the vision. Before assessments are carried out or plans developed, it’s important to have some idea of where you want to end up.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road to I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”
Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll

Sometimes, when you have a child with a disability, it’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about what your child can’t do. And then they aren’t given a chance to do the things that they can do or to take part in things that the rest of us do every day. The vision for a child’s future should be based not on what other children have done or will do but based on their strengths, needs, and wants.


Johnny has Down Syndrome and works in a grocery store and lives in a group home, so the IEP team thinks that’s what Anna should do too because she has Down Syndrome and a lot of things in common with Johnny. But what if that’s not what Anna wants to do? Anna may want to work in an office and live in an apartment with a friend. What should the IEP team discuss and plan for?

When setting a vision, it should be realistic, but the vision shouldn’t be limited by the disability label. Maybe Danny has dreams that you don’t feel can happen—let’s say he wants to be a doctor and you don’t think that’s realistic. Find out what he likes about that job that would include his interests and strengths. Maybe he likes wearing a stethoscope or maybe he wants to wear a uniform or work in a lab. When dreams appear to be out of reach, dig deeper!

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