Independent Life Skills

TRANSITION PLANNING: Preparing Students for Life

As students approach adulthood, it is important that they are prepared for adult living. They must know how to handle themselves in both positive and negative situations. Adults make decisions, act independently, evaluate and modify performance and adjust goals and plans to make the most of themselves and their life situation. Life skills should be discussed and modeled at home with parents and families.  

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Decision-Making
  • Optimism and Realism
  • Task Completion
  • Self-Improvement 

Learn About

  • Learn about Department of Rehabilitation Services for all students with disabilities or history of a disability. Work with your school transitional and vocational coordinator/transition specialist/transition counselor on questions and applying to become a client.
  • Register for PUNS 
  • Connect with Community Alternatives Unlimited
  • Developmental Disabilities

Medical Management

  • Call and schedule medical and dental appointments
  • Know your medical insurance plan
  • Organize prescription medication
  • Independently take medication
  • Prepare a first aid kit at home
  • Prepare an emergency contact list including any allergies or medications

Personal Care

  • Daily Bathing
  • Skin Care - Nail Care - Hair Care
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Clean and appropriate clothes
  • Proper nutrition and sleep

Employment Readiness

  • Complete a career assessment and interest inventory (job interests)
  • Learn the training and qualifications of the career/job. (Is it realistic for you?)
  • Talk to friends and family about their jobs and careers (Arrange a job shadow)
  • Create a resume and cover letter
  • Memorize your social security number

Organization and Time Management
Organization is a challenge for many people but can be especially challenging for individuals with special needs.

  • Use day planners/assignment notebooks
  • Make a daily list of tasks and goals
  • Use timers and alarms to be on time, to stay focused and to be responsible
  • Go through mail on a daily basis
  • Establish two days out of every month to pay bills and balance accounts
  • Set up a filing system for all important documents and bills
  • Create a weekly meal plan and schedule a day each week to go grocery shopping
  • Break down large projects into smaller tasks
  • Evaluate the use of technology in everyday life situations

Money Management
A budget means keeping track of how much money you make and how much you spend.

  • Have a discussion about fixed monthly costs like home utilities, insurance, etc. 
  • Open a checking and savings account
  • Obtain an ATM/debit card
  • Visit a bank or bank website to learn the process for obtaining a loan and other financial services

Household Management

  • Plan a complete meal for your family or friends
  • Make the food list and go shopping
  • Prepare the meal and clean-up afterwards
  • Learn to operate a washer and dryer, and do a load of laundry (lights - darks - delicates)
  • Learn how to use home cleaning supplies and take responsibility for weekly chores
  • Review apartment ads/rates and the steps in the rental process


  • Practice using public transportation (Metra, PACE, CTA, taxi, Uber, etc.)
  • Consider accessing PACE Paratransit services
  • Practice basic car care and routine maintenance (tires, oil, wiper fluid)
  • Use Map Quest, GPS, online map resources, or an atlas to map out driving directions
  • Obtain a drivers license or state ID


  • Develop a personal fitness plan
  • Investigate local park district options
  • Check out community college classes
  • Participate in religious social groups
  • Volunteer in the community
  • Utilize your public library

Examples of Alternatives to Traditional Post-secondary Education