Excerpt: Transitioning to adulthood is difficult, especially for teens with autism, but there are things you can do now to increase the chances of success for your teen with autism after high school.
If you have a teen with autism preparing to graduate from high school, you have probably already considered what his or her next phase of life will look like. Transitioning to adulthood means no longer having the structure, schedule or predictability inherent to a typical school day. While this can be difficult for any teenager, those with autism tend to struggle at higher rates due to their unique challenges. Because youth with autism after high school are considered a “high-risk” population, it is vital to identify supports to better their chances of success.
Although each person is different, research does indicate the effectiveness of certain practices and approaches in boosting the quality of life and overall well-being of people with autism after high school.
Transition to Adulthood
Preparing your teen for life with autism after high school can seem overwhelming, but various forms of transition services exist to provide support in this time of rapid change. Transition services, in general, emphasize ways to improve people’s academic success, general functioning and overall independence.
Post-high school transition services are typically focused on the following areas:
- Postsecondary education– looking at the various educational options for your teen with autism after high school; identifying areas of interest for study, educational requirements, cost(s), etc.
- Employment– exploring how your teen wants to earn a living; identifying strengths/weaknesses, skill set(s), desired pay/schedule, transportation needs, etc.
- Independent living skills– exploring what supports your teen will need to live independently; exploring necessary skills to live independently (personal hygiene, nutrition, safety, laundry, cleaning, etc.)
- Community involvement– discussing the importance of community participation and ways to get involved (recreational activities, spiritual/religious participation, etc.)
What You Can Do to Prepare Your Teen for Life with Autism after High School
Transition services are very helpful in supporting the success of your teenager with autism after high school. But even independent of outside services, there are things you can do as a parent or loved one of a young adult with autism to help increase his or her readiness for the next phase of life.
- Focus on skill building– Life skills are a significant part of success after school for any person. Unfortunately, schools frequently neglect this important area of learning. Some teens can “learn as they go,” but for teens with autism, this is often not the case. Providing your teen with a base knowledge of practical living skills (money management, home care, travel skills, etc.), functional skills (organization, planning, time management, etc.) and social skills (making phone calls, navigating challenges in relationships, social etiquette, etc.) can greatly improve his or her confidence in moving beyond high school
- Seek support services early- Ideally, the process of creating a transition plan should begin before your child graduates from high school. The earlier, the better in terms of success for your child.
Thinking about your teen’s transition from high school can bring up a lot of fears. But the sooner you and your child can start discussing and preparing, the sooner those fears can begin to fall away.
To find out more about helping your teen prepare for life with autism after high school, or to learn about our services at Transitions, contact us at 518-775-5384.