Preparing for the Transition from Special Education to Adult Services

By April 30, 2020NESCA Notes 2020

By: Becki Lauzon, M.A., CRC
Transition Specialist and Consultant

As many parents, educators and young adults know, the transition from special education services to adult services is an overwhelming and scary time. I recently gave a presentation about breaking down the referral process for adult services, as well as highlighting many types of services that are available once a student turns 22 or graduates from high school. From community-based day supports, to job coaching, accessing travel options and managing the day-to-day tasks of living as independently as possible, there are a handful of resources available within Massachusetts. Below you will find some helpful links to begin educating yourself on what some of those services could look like, answers to commonly asked questions, as well as a breakdown of helpful timelines for when the planning process should begin.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  • What are the adult agencies?
    • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC); Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS); Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH); Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB); and Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
  • What is a 688 referral?
    • A 688 referral can only be completed by school systems for students who may be eligible for adult services. This should be discussed at a student’s IEP meeting AT LEAST two years before the student is expected to graduate or turn 22. It should also be documented in the student’s IEP that it was discussed at the meeting.
    • It is important that the 688 referral is done at least two years before the student is supposed to leave the school system, as this provides enough planning time to determine eligibility for adult services and for the student to be included in the anticipated cost of services for the state.
    • The 688 referral must be signed by the parent or legal guardian, unless the student is over 18 and their own guardian. In this case, the student needs to sign it. There are different agencies (DDS, DMH, MRC, MCB, etc.), and the appropriate one will be discussed and then determined.
  • How do I fill out a self-referral?
    • For the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
    • For the Department of Mental Health (DMH)
    • For Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC): Students, family members and/or school staff can begin the referral process with a phone call or a visit to the local MRC Area Office. There may also be a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assigned to the student’s high school who can assist with the direct referral process. The MRC direct referral process can begin as early as age 14 or at least two years prior to graduation from high school.

Helpful Links:


About the Author

Becki Lauzon, M.A., CRC, works with teens, young adults and their families out of the Newton, MA and Plainville, MA offices. Lauzon has unparalleled experience as a Transition Specialist, Transition Consultant and Vocational Program Coordinator. Lauzon will be providing transition assessment (including testing, functional evaluations and observations) consultation, case management, training and professional development for schools; and transition planning, consultation and coaching for transition-aged students and their parents.


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Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email or call 617-658-9800.