Prepping children with learning disabilities for life after high school can set them up for a successful transition to independent life.
For students with learning disabilities and their parents, the transition from high school can be scary. Young adults are not often given guidance on how to create the life they want for themselves. Many parents face fears of the uncertainty of their son or daughter’s future. Thankfully, for the nearly 6 million students with disabilities in the United States, there is support available, including the Transitions program.
Transitions deeply understands the worries of young people with learning disabilities and their parents, as it was founded by a mother who feared for the future of her daughter with special needs and set out to design a program that would provide all the supports young people like her need to succeed. Transitions, located near Albany, New York, offers support programs and camps tailored to support the various needs of this population. Even if the young adult does not attend one of our programs, there are still ways for you to help someone with a learning disability after high school.
Challenges after High School for Children with Learning Disabilities
Everyone is likely to encounter certain stressors as they transition after high school. Students with learning disabilities may have an even more difficult time with the changes and decisions that come naturally after graduation, such as:
- Deciding whether to enter the workforce or attend college
- Loss of consistent structure/schedule
- Changing supports and need for self-advocacy
- Increasing responsibility and independence
Learning How to Help a Child with a Learning Disability after High School
Discuss the Options
Not all children with learning disabilities want to do the same thing after high school. Some enter into post-secondary education while others join the workforce. And while there is no “right” answer, it can be helpful to discuss the options and necessary steps for each with your child. This can help him or her identify strengths and weaknesses and explore potential career interests. At Transitions, we call this process “self-awareness” and teach it in both self-advocacy and career exploration classes as a guide to planning one’s future. For instance, one young woman in the program chose to pursue a musical career because she identified her beautiful singing voice as a career strength.
Help the Child Understand His or Her Rights
Whether a child with learning disabilities is entering the workforce or planning to attend college, it is vital he or she be educated on his or her rights, which are specified under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These laws prohibit discrimination and allow for certain accommodations to help those with disabilities function at work and/or school. If your son or daughter is planning on attending college, there are some differences they should be aware of regarding the party responsible for seeking services. In high school, it is the school’s responsibility to identify students with disabilities and provide them with services. At the college level, it is the responsibility of the student to request accommodations and provide the necessary documentation to support those requests.
Teach Independent Living Skills
If the child is planning on living independently following high school, learning independent living skills is an essential part of a successful transition. Independent living skills include:
- Money management (budgeting, saving, getting rid of debt, etc.)
- Maintaining a living space (cleaning, laundry, basic maintenance, etc.)
- Taking care of health needs (nutrition and cooking, exercise, basic self-care, etc.)
- Time management (meeting deadlines, tracking obligations, arriving on time, etc.)
- Transportation (driving or taking public transportation)
Learning these skills does not need to be a chore. In fact, it can often be a very rewarding avenue to gaining self-confidence and new opportunities. For many of the students who attend Transitions, their fondest memories with the program involve learning culinary skills and preparing their own meals for the first time. Many also benefit greatly from personal finance classes – in particular, one student was able to save enough money to buy a new iPhone he wanted as a result of the skills he learned there.
Although young people with learning disabilities may face particular challenges in transitioning to post-high school life, some advanced planning, education and encouragement by parents can make all the difference.
To find out more about how to help a child with a learning disability after high school, or to learn more about Transitions programs near Albany, New York, contact us at (518) 775-5384.
About the Author: Priya Winston is a social worker and Self-Advocacy and Leadership instructor at Transitions. Since she was diagnosed with Turner syndrome and nonverbal learning differences as a teenager, Priya is uniquely equipped to give the Transitions students firsthand, personalized counseling on how to ask for and use accommodations to succeed at college and in the workplace. She received her Master of Social Work from the State University of New York at Albany in 2017 and is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Social Work.