What is transition?
Most people think it is what happens at the end of high school and the beginning of life afterward. Transitions are on-going in the lives of our children with disabilities. Transition happens when our kids start school.
There are transitions from one grade to another and from elementary to middle school and then to high school. The “big" transition happens when our children either graduate or age out of school services.
My oldest child was 2 years old when I asked my mentor—an expert in disability advocacy—what exactly was transition. I’ll never forget his answer. He said, “If you are just asking now, you are already behind in planning for Ryan’s transition to adulthood.”
I was shaken by his answer. But his point was that transition to post-high school required regular planning. It also meant altering plans as time went by. So much relied on services received, IEP goals met and changes in health or in family circumstances.
Transition to adult living depends on many things.
For our kids with profound disabilities, there are many questions. We hoped that Ryan would leave home someday. To be in a group home or another supported location. We hoped he would work and be as independent as possible. We were still in the middle of planning transition when he died.
But many of our friends had children with more severe disabilities. They did make that transition from school to adulthood. Some of these kids are still living with family at home. One family built an apartment on their property for their child, using Medicaid Waiver funds for attendant care. Another family chose a group home setting. Some work, others go to day-habilitation programs.
The kids from our Asperger Syndrome Group are doing well with transitions. They all chose to continue their schooling. The twins went away to a four-year university. They graduated this past May. They work as interns and hope to get full time work soon.
One guy took 2-3 classes a semester until he completed his associate degree. He was accepted into a college out of state. He is a full-time junior. Still another took community college classes. He is now at Texas A&M San Antonio. He’s graduating in December.
Most lived at home for the first years of college. The twins’ parents rented an apartment in the same city where the boys were in school to provide the support they needed to succeed. Still another, our token girl, takes classes and works at a local fast food restaurant. She took specialized driving classes and hopes to get her driver’s license soon.
None finished school in 4 years. They went at their own paces. The one common denominator was great family support. They are still transitioning into their adult lives.
They are reaching goals and are on the way to good outcomes. And they will continue transitions!
The Transition to Adulthood section provides great information to assist you and your child with planning transition. Start now!
Just when I thought maybe the “autism thing” was calming down. And that maybe I had a few months to catch my breath before researching everything I needed to know about guardianship before my son turns 18. Wham–another big change brought us back to reality.
Support is out there for families of individuals with disabilities–you just have to ask! Take advantage of the community of others who are going through the same things as your family.