Making the transition from high school to adulthood isn't easy for anyone.
But when you already have a hurdle to overcome such as a learning disability, the challenge can be that much harder.
That is why several area community agencies, including Blair County school districts, are teaming up to give parents of special education children an overview of what it takes to successfully make the transition.
The Arc of Blair County and Southern Alleghenies Service Management Group will sponsor a free Transition Expo at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Ramada Altoona Conference Center. Today is the last day to register by calling 946-1011.
Lee Engle of Duncansville knows what it's like to help make a transition.
Engle's son, Matthew, 22, was born with a crucial part of his brain missing, which impacts his daily functioning abilities, she said.
The family always wanted to keep him close to the numerous family members he enjoys interacting with and not limit the amount of time they could spend with him.
They had planned to build an addition on their house, but it turned out to be too expensive. They ended up buying a house nearby for their son. Skills of Central Pennsylvania Inc. cares for him.
"It sounds so simple," she said.
But the reality was it took five years of financial planning to get them to their final goal, she said.
Matthew has lived in the house since November.
She said it's important for parents to work backwards from an end goal. Because Matthew loves being around others, their goal was having him in a place where that could freely take place.
The keynote speaker will be David Carson, offering coping strategies from his book, "Survival Guide for College-bound L.D. (Learning Difference
The workshop will cover transition topics from high school to the adult community, specific to the Department of Education's requirements for special education Individual Education Plans.
Arc Executive Director Maria Brandt said there is a range of severity for students who are in special education within their respective school districts, and so each student's needs are different.
The workshop is intended to eliminate the "glass-look" in a parent's eye when faced with transitioning their child from his or her school to life after graduation, she said.
The four main areas educators look at are: independent living, employment, post-secondary training or education and self-determination, Brandt said.
Transitioning begins in a student's early teens, she said.
Engle said it is important for parents to give realistic input when the school begins to prepare a child for transitioning.
Often the "same energy [is] not applied" when a special education student is preparing for life after high school as when any other student is hitting that milestone, Brandt said. Schools do such a good job supporting the students that once the support is gone, parents are not prepared, she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Clegg is at 949-7030.