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The Dedham Public Schools is committed to preparing students with disabilities for a  successful transition to adult living within their home community. The Life Start program serves 18-22 year old students with developmental disabilities.  The program is located at the Dedham town hall for maximum access to the community.

For students with disabilities, the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) mandates preparatory, results-oriented services beginning at age 14 (or earlier if deemed appropriate by the IEP team) as part of developing a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), and continuing until a student’s graduation, completion of education program, or until the age of 22. 

Planning for the successful transition of students away from special education and toward their vision for adulthood requires a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that:

  • Is designed within a results-oriented process, focused on increasing independence and capacity of a student with a disability so that the student is able to successfully move forward from school to post-school activities that reflect their interests and aptitudes,  including postsecondary education, vocational education, employment (or supported employment), independent living, citizenship, and  community participation.  
  • Is designed based on individual student’s needs, taking into account their strengths, preferences, and interests. 
  • Includes instruction, related services and community experiences that are geared toward increased skills for employment, opportunities for leisure and recreation, acquisition of self-advocacy skills, self-determination, skills for daily living, and adult living.  
  • Makes important and sustainable connections for students and families as they make a transition away from special education. 


The LifeStart Program is a happy and vibrant learning environment where students are individually supported and nurtured in their academic, vocational, and social development. We hope that you will take the opportunity to build a partnership with us, so that together, we can support our students as they develop their skills as creative problem solvers, critical thinkers, and independent learners.   

Program Components

The  LifeSTART Program offers comprehensive programming that address six specific domains of adulthood including but not limited to: