10 Ways to Support Your Child with Autism Through their Teens & Beyond

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Below is a post by Autism Speaks Adult Services/Autism Response Team Coordinator Sarah Andrews.

The transition to adulthood can be quite a challenge for individuals on the spectrum and their families. But these tips will help make that transition a little bit easier and give your child a safety net for the future.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan.

The best way to support your child through the transition from school services to the adult services years is to plan, plan, plan. Transition planning should start at 14 years of age as part of the IEP process. A well-executed transition plan can make all the difference in connecting to services that will best support your child in the future. Transition Toolkit

2. Contact your state’s Developmental Disabilities Organization, as soon possible, to obtain eligibility for services including your state’s Medicaid Waiver.

Services for an adult with autism through your state’s Developmental Disabilities agency typically do not start until the age of 21 or 22. So, what are you supposed to do in the meantime? Your local school, as part of your child’s IEP, can provide job training and life skills training in many creative ways until your child turns 21. Advocate for what your child needs. Take a look at local transition programs in your community. Figure out what types of programming will work best for your child and the way that they learn. Take advantage of these school years for transition to life skills.

3. Research Community Options

Options in the local community that can help support your child and your family. Reach out to local support groups. Get involved in local autism events. Culturing relationships from these resources will be a valuable asset for your child moving forward. These connections may even help your child land his or her first job! My Autism Team is a great tool to find community options and connect with othe rparents.

4. Learn about Person-Centered Planning

5. Think about Finances

Think about how you will support your child’s financial needs in the future. Research having a special needs trust put into place. Obtain eligibility for SSI and SSDI and Medicaid. Check out www.disbility.gov for information on the later programs and additional local financial resources. Find out about your state’s ABLE account plan. Stay tuned to Autism Speaks’ website regarding your state’s individual plan. Learn how ABLE works here.

6. Guardianship

You will also need to ask yourself if your child may need the extra support and security of guardianship. Guardianship laws and regulations differ greatly from state to state. Check out www.guardianship.org  for more information.

7. What about Employment?

Every state has a Vocational Rehabilitation agency. Connect with them for services related to employment. This agency can provide assessments, job training, job coaching and even assistance with post secondary funding and driver’s education! Check out Autism Speaks’ employment resources.

8. What is My Child Good at?

Figure out what your child’s strengths and challenges are. Autism Speaks released a great assessment tool which goes over all the domains of independent living. Use the Community Based Skills Assessment to figure out what supports your child is going to need in the future.

9. Post Secondary Education

Does your child want to pursue postsecondary education? Educate yourself on the programs that will help your child be successful. Transition to postsecondary education can be a difficult process, but with the right supports from the college or program’s disabilities office, you can receive supports to make this a smoother and more successful transition. Check out our Postsecondary Educational Opportunities Guide for more information.

10. Self-Advocacy

Teach your child to advocate for him or herself. This is a process that should start when your child is young. Let them make age appropriate decisions for themselves. Help them understand where their areas of strength lie and when they need to ask for help. For instance, if your child has difficulty reading from the board, teach them to ask for written notes from the teacher. These types of accommodations can also be used at the secondary level and in the workforce.

For more information, check out the Autism Speaks Advocacy Tool Kit or the Self Advocacy section of the Transition Tool Kit.trans_thumbnail

Person-centered planning is an important part of the transition process. There are materials out there that can help with this process. This process is to be implemented with your case manager through your state’s developmental disabilities agency. Talk to you child about where they would like to live in the future. Would they be comfortable living independently with limited support or would do they need 24/7 care. Involve them in this very important process. Here are some good resources on person-centered planning: Pathwww.inclusion.com. Also visit the Autism Speaks Housing & Community Living page.

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