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Health Transition Planning and
the Individualized Education Program (IEP)

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the purpose of special education services is to ensure that children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. A student’s elementary education provides the foundation for achieving these goals.

Beginning in middle school and throughout high school, however, a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and transition planning activities increasingly focus on building the skills needed to achieve each student’s goals for life after high school. Parents, youth and the entire IEP team will want to consider how health and healthcare issues impact a student’s ability to achieve his or her postsecondary education, employment, and independent living goals.

What skills will your student need to develop to manage
their health condition and maintain the best possible health status?

The following transition planning questions can help parents determine what kinds of health-related goals and activities should be included in their son or daughter’s IEP and transition plan. See PACER’s Health Knowledge, Skills & Abilities Assessment [Link to form].

Although the answers to these questions may change as your teen matures and learns more about the potential long-term impact of his or her disability, they will help you identify short- and long-term health related goals that are important to your son or daughter’s future employment, independence and community participation. Consider whether any of the topics below reflect skills that should be addressed in your youth’s IEP. Discuss areas you see as needs and how related goals might be incorporated into the IEP with your youth and the IEP team.

Examples of health–related IEP considerations

Organizational skills



Managing emotions


Cooking and cleaning


Money management

Sample Medical Summary
and Emergency Plan

Take a look at a sample medical summary and emergency plan available from Got Transition™, a National Health Care Transition Center with numerous resources for families, youth and the medical professionals who work with them.

Emergency Medical Record card from PACER

Pocket- or billfold-sized card with plastic case to fill out with personal and medical information in case of emergency.
Free to Minnesota parents of youth with disabilities, one per child. $1.50 | HIAC-h21
Order here

Financing Your Young Adult’s Healthcare


What's Next

Once you have identified the issues your son or daughter needs to focus on, think about how they could be incorporated into the IEP. Here are some examples of skills that could be addressed in the IEP.

Revisit areas where additional practice is needed to ensure competency.


Becoming an Adult: Taking Responsibility for Your Medical Care

Health Care in the Transition Plan

Dr. Right: The Right Way to Discuss Transition

Dr. Knotright: The Wrong Way to Discuss Transition

For more videos on this topic, visit our Videos page.

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PACER Resources

National Resources