Houlton Institute

Transitions: The Journey from Adolescence to Adulthood for individuals with Autism

This two-course, expert-led, series is focused on the aspects and competencies necessary in order to navigate the transition process; preparing for the transition of individuals with autism towards adulthood.

When does the course meet?

The autism course is six weeks long and completely online. The course is asynchronous, meaning that you can access your courses when it’s convenient for you each week. There are NO PREARRANGED MEETING times. You can spend as much or as little time as you want completing activities, sharing and learning!

“I thought I knew a lot about this topic, but the course was humbling as I learned SO much.”


Transitions Part 1 (SOSC 1501):
Thinking Through the Long Term, IEP  & Advocacy

The first course will focus on the IEP process (including contesting a plan), the legal rights owed to people with disabilities, assessment, a conceptual overview of transitioning in the long-term, the planning process, the nature of autism after 16 and the goal creation process.

Transitions Part 2 (SOSC 1502):
Practical Legal, Social & Health-related Entitlements and Planning

The second autism course focuses on larger medical, legal and long-term planning issues that must be prepared for in the transition process. Topics covered include: guardianship, social security information, legal activism, letters of intent, administration of a Special Needs Trust, Medicaid Benefits and long-term health needs.

Flexible, On-Demand Learning. Chat with other Parents and Experts.

These courses include discussions, assignments and assessments, media, flashcards, readings and research, exercises – all managed by a professor trained in special education who can answer your questions. The courses on IEP goals for autism are largely flexible and can be done according to your schedule each week. Each course is six weeks long.


COURSE STARTS: January 11th


Chat with other Parents and Experts!

SOSC 1501 – Transitions Part I: Thinking Through the Long Term, IEP  & Advocacy

Week 1: Introduction: Person-Centered Planning

  • Introduction to this Course and an Introduction to the Concepts
  • Overview of Transition and the importance of transition planning
  • Transition in the Long-Term
  • Understanding a autism through the transition process

Week 2: Rights and Self Advocacy: My Child’s Rights

  • Understanding self-advocacy and self-determination
  • Making decisions about disclosure Issues
  • Self-Determination Skills
  • Learn the Guidelines for your particular state
  • Become a Powerful Advocate: Key Definitions and Important Terms

Week 3: IEP: Part One

  • Introduction: A Guide to the Individualized Education Plan
  • Review of IEP-specific Legal Rights
  • Let’s Take a Closer Look at the Individualized Education Program
  • Transition IEP Goals, Objectives, and Services Checklist
  • Questions about IEP
  • IEP Expert

Week 4: IEP: Part Two

  • Age Appropriate Transition Assessment Tool Kit
  • The Assessment Process
  • Stakeholders & The Student’s IEP Team
  • Preparation for the Meeting
  • National Standards and Quality Indicators for Transition
  • Summary of Performance Template
  • Educational Options: Different Types of Diplomas

Week 5: Employment & Post-Secondary Futures

  • Think through one’s strengths
  • Living with autism in college
  • Preparing students with autism for college and preparing colleges
  • Options beyond employment
  • Autism in the workplace
  • Additional Resources

Week 6: Employment, Living, Home & Technology

  • Vocational Opportunities & Transition Planning
  • Assistive Devices, Internet, Autism Apps
  • Cell Phone and Assistance Seeking
  • Housing Homes for Autism
  • Exercise – What Technology Should be Created

SOSC 1502 – Transitions Part II: Practical Legal, Social & Health-related Entitlements and Planning

Week 1: Employment, Living, Home & Technology

  • Conceptual Overview of Legal Issues
  • Conceptual Overview of Medical Issues

Week 2: Legal Matters: Part I

  • Guardianship
  • Support: Social Security and SSDI Information
  • What the Legal System Needs to Know: Legal Activism
  • Writing a Letter of Intent & Exercise
  • Legal Definitions

Week 3: Legal Matters: Part II

  • Importance of Legal Matters
  • Reflection Exercise
  • Administering A Special Needs Trust

Week 4: Health Issues

  • Issues in Health
  • Medical Benefits: Home and Community-Based Waiver Services
  • Transition to Adult Health Care
  • Relationship and Sexuality Issues
  • Medication

Week 5: Mental Health Issues

  • NIMH: Autism
  • Mental Health Issues
  • Resources and Support

Week 6: Reflection: Implementing a Plan and Post Plan Issues

  • The Entire Transition Process
  • Planning Document
  • Resources

Evelyn H.

Until hearing the podcast. I did not realize that modifications are not counted in state tests, nor did I know that state testing accommodations and classroom accommodations should always be the same. That is interesting information to know. I have two children, one with nonverbal autism, and the other with dyslexia. My daughter with autism obviously has a modified curriculum. I’m okay with that because we are trying to help her reach her full potential in the best way possible. However my other daughter with dyslexia, I want to pull out of her IEP and double check that she only receives accommodations and not modifications.

Judy D.

I did not know the difference between accommodations and modifications at all. This podcast really gave me a lot of information. I had no idea that modifications did not count in state tests and that they would modify student’s score. I also did not know that state testing and classroom accommodations should always be the same. I really thought the state testing accommodations was a whole other subject and was treated differently than any other accommodations given.

This really clarified exactly what accommodations and modifications are to me. Especially in the area of testing. I assumed it was a much more casual part of IEP and now I look at it a whole new way.

Gloria G.

Waaoo!!! This recommendation magnified my visualization of inclusive and integration of my son, in all areas of the community!!!!

Adrianne M.

I agree, I’m so glad I found this class, it is helping me so much with my son.

Michele M.

Some of these seem so simple, but I don’t think of them when I’m in the situation. I’m learning  a lot.

Cher B.

I can’t wait to include input from my son’s karate instructors, some of the people in the community he sees almost every day –I think this is a great way to add input from others who know the student from another aspect and in a different environment.

Jackie O.

I’m so glad I’m taking this course –I don’t think the school district would have a given me a clue about what is needed now. I already feel better informed.


Scholarships are available for those families who qualify for economic hardship. Please contact learnersupport@houltoninstitute.com to request a scholarship application form.


Brigid Rankowski is a self-advocate with almost 10 years in the Autism community. She is currently a partner of the Autistic Global Initiative (AGI) working with other self-advocates to help implement a positive change. She works as an in home support worker, freelance writer, and presenter on Autism related topics. Her writing can be found in Autism Spectrum Digest, Autism Asperger’s Digest, and other publications. She also is a part of an award winning Vaudeville Troupe. Her relationship to theater and the arts has become a very strong passion as it can help improve many life skills for people on the Autism Spectrum.

She’s currently working on her Masters from Nova Southeastern University in Developmental Disabilities. She runs a blog with connections to her writings and it can be found at www.ARoadToMe.blogspot.com

Skills & Benefits

Finally, have someone to answer your questions:

  • Learn the IEP Process in & Out
  • Learn how to petition the IEP plan and start Transition Planning
  • Know the National Standards and Quality Indicators for Transition
  • Learn your State’s timelines
  • Learn about Living with Autism in College, in the Workplace
  • Learn which technologies and APPS can help the transition to adulthood
  • Learn with a community of parents and others navigating through the transition process
  • Understand how to prepare for Health Issues specific to the transition process.
  • Do you know how to write a Letter of Intent? Learn how.
  • Things you should know about administering a Special Needs Trust
  • Learn about Mental Health Issues
  • Understand the laws around IEP? Learn the difference between MODIFICATION and ACCOMMODATION
  • Quizzes and discussions, movies and readings: all convenient and flexible Learn at your own pace each week
  • Get support from a national community
  • Learn how to be more empowered
  • Experienced Professor
  • In-class Assistant available to support you

DISCLAIMER: This course is delivered through a collaboration between Autism Speaks and Houlton Institute. The course is adapted from the Autism Speaks Transition Toolkit – put together by the Autism Speaks Family Services department. Autism Speaks does not provide medical or legal advice or services. Rather, Autism Speaks provides general information about autism and IEP goals for autism as a service to the community. The information provided in this course is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals. Importantly, this course and the toolkit are not intended as a tool for verifying the credentials, qualifications, or abilities of any organization, product or professional. Autism Speaks and Houlton have not validated and is not responsible for any information or services about the IEP process provided by third parties. You are urged to use independent judgment and request references when considering any resource such as a course associated with the provision of services related to autism.