By Mike Walther, Oak Wealth Advisors

Parents of children with special needs know first-hand how the holidays can be the most joyous and most challenging time of the year.  Consider the 10 New Year's Resolutions for Parents of Special Needs Childen listed below, with extra attention paid to numbers 1 and 10.  Oak Wealth Advisors sends our wishes to you for a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with good health and much happiness.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Special Needs Children

1. I will take more time for myself because I recognize that if I am not at my best, I cannot be the best parent possible.

2. I will celebrate as many small achievements throughout the year as I can observe.

3. I will schedule some “normal” activities that get my entire family out into the community.

4. I will contact at least one of my political representatives and share a personal story with them and let them know what services are critical for my family.

5. I will help two other families by sharing stories, information, and recommendations with them.

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By Mary "Micki" Moran, J.D.

This year I celebrated my 15th year in my law practice at The Child and Family Law Center. Over the past decade plus it has been a privilege to work with families and watch as their children with disabilities entered school and the parents advocated for services, inclusion and to develop the skills necessary to live the fullest life possible. Now these same parents consult with our office to take the next steps. The end of the special education services looms near and most parents are not sure what the next steps to take or where to begin.

The IDEA 2004 mandates that transition services must be provided. The definition of transition services is as follows:
(a) Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability.
(1) Is designed with a results oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment, (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.

For every family transition services will look different and should be highly individualized. In Illinois transition planning must begin no later than 14.5. Unfortunately, the typical scenario in my office involves parents who are panicking a year from age 22 or a graduation date. This is often a hard conversation since the reality that no one is going to take charge of this process for them and the recognition that more than ever they need a team to develop a life plan for their young adult with disabilities is overwhelming at first. As part of this process, my job as lawyer/ counselor is to first outline the first steps in the process while encouraging them that they can do this with support.

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