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Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools are required to provide transition planning for students with disabilities and mental illness by age 16 (Eismann et al, 2017). Occupational therapists have been underutilized in secondary transition planning, despite their expertise in targeting functional abilities, comprehension, and health using activity analysis to promote skill attainment and achieve independence (Mankey 2012; Eismann et al, 2017).

At the Winston School, there was no formal transition program aside from the individual college counseling provided by a staff member. A coordinated transition program was indicated to prepare students for life after high school to include college and career readiness, and independent living skills, especially financial literacy. Financial literacy has become a priority not just for Winston, but globally as a lack of financial planning has been linked to greater rates of dropping out of college (Blue et al, 2014; Poynton et al, 2014). The purpose of this project is to develop the financial literacy component as a part of a coordinated, comprehensive transition program that addresses the specific skills and needs of diploma bound students with learning differences to transition into post-secondary education and work using an occupational therapy lens. A total of ten students participated in the pilot program. Needs were assessed using informal assessments including interviews, surveys, and reflection. As a result, a total of 20 lessons were created for financial literacy using multimodal presentations to meet individual needs. Students expressed their growth in knowledge through the meaningful activities they participated in throughout the course.

With the use of occupation-based activity analysis, curriculum development for financial literacy resulted in meaningful, experiential learning opportunities with appropriate modifications to meet student learning needs and preferences. School-based occupational therapists can expand their role in the classroom in supporting students to develop the necessary skills to prepare them for independent living.

Publication Date



San Marcos, CA


transition, occupational therapy, adolescents, financial literacy, curriculum development, high school, life skills


Finance and Financial Management | Occupational Therapy | Secondary Education


Poster presented at the Fall 2019 Research Day on the San Marcos, CA, campus of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, December 13, 2019.

This poster is based upon a doctoral capstone of the same title:

Barillo. R.M. (2019). Development of a financial literacy component for a comprehensive secondary transition program for diploma-bound students with learning differences [Doctoral capstone, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences].

Developing Financial Literacy Skills for a Secondary Transition Program for Students with Learning Differences