We’ve put a lot of information about the transition to adulthood on this website. We hope it helps you plan, manage, and deal with all the work and emotions that come with this time.
But somehow, nothing brings the transition to adulthood to life like a personal story. Some parents we know have shared their own experiences in the hopes of helping you with yours.
Sam is an adult with autism. Sometimes, when I think about why Sam wants to stay in our small hometown, I know it’s about the reliable relationships he has in the community that allow him to have more of his independence. Like, I know everyone at Dave’s Auto Shop, where he gets his car fixed, so I don’t feel like I have to backtrack to make sure nobody’s taking advantage of Sam as he takes care of his car. The restaurateurs in town know him and his food preferences, so he can go in and eat without me. He schedules his checkups at the dentist and the doctor. The people at the credit union know him, too. Even for adults, it takes a village. And this village supports him so that we both have more independence.
See also our page on personal networks.
I knew there would be some hiccups when Chantel went through medical transition. I just didn't realize they would all hit at once. When she turned 21, Medicaid stopped covering her Pediasure, and we needed a doctor’s order to cover Ensure instead. It was just before Christmas, all her doctors were out until January, and Chantel was running out of food. We had to buy a case until we could get into the new doctor.
See also our page on medical transition.
Brandon’s job training team has been one of the best parts of his transition. He stayed in school for an extra four years to work on his employment skills. His school program has helped him find jobs, and he’s worked in more than 12 environments, including choosing records for the KOOP Beatles show. At first, he really didn’t know how to work. But when he’s run into job frustrations, his teachers and the people in his network talk through them with him and help him figure out his strengths and challenges. We worked with his current employer – The University of Texas – and they found him the perfect job to match his skills and build his social contacts: sorting and delivering mail. He’s worked there for a year-and-a-half now.
See also our page on careers.
Liz was very successful in college with the help of the Texas Workforce Commission for purchasing books, assistive technology and partial tuition coverage. Her physical limitations meant she could not apply for most of the jobs offered to her peers with disabilities, which use hands more and don’t match her skill set. But the skills TWC supported during her education prepared her to find a job in the disability arena as an advocate. Zoom’s popularity during the pandemic has allowed her to be more independent and successful at work because it removed some of the barriers with transportation and assistance from attendants.
See also our page on transitioning out of public education.
As Payton was approaching 18, it was time to figure out how to support her as an adult. We looked at all the options and determined what types of support Payton would need in making difficult or new types of decisions. The one thing we knew was that, with support, Payton was able to make decisions. She needed help gathering information and understanding the consequences of decisions. During our research of options, we found information on Supported Decision-Making agreements and decided this was exactly what we were looking for! It’s less restrictive than guardianship and more appropriate than Power of Attorney, and fortunately, Texas had just approved it as an alternative to these other options.
See also our pages on:
Probably the hardest thing for Jake after high school was his social life. Learning to make a meal or figure out a college class was a lot easier than that. In school, he had a community of friends he had known for a long time and saw every day. But that ended with high school. And if it’s hard to express your thoughts and ideas, it can be hard to connect with people as an adult. Even if a parent manufactures social contact, it’s still manufactured. It was easy for Jake to get really isolated. And when you have autism, any routine is hard to change, even a routine of isolation. But this year, he joined a social group for adults. And he’s followed his interests to join his church choir and a bowling league.
See also our page on friendships after high school.
John is 23 years old with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome. While in high school, he had the opportunity to gain vocational skills in auto mechanics and welding. He was part of the Ag Mechanics program through Future Farmers of America (FFA), restoring an antique tractor, which earned him a technical scholarship from the Houston Rodeo. He also took advantage of TWC Vocational Rehabilitation services to help pay for college and tools. John earned three college certificates for automotive and diesel technology and is now employed full time. His next goal is to move out on his own.
See also our page on college and alternatives.
Tre determined his own transition plan – after his high school graduation, he wanted to move in with his grandparents. His grandparents believed this would be a passing phase for Tre, but it wasn’t. When his grandmother understood that Tre was seriously planning to move into their house after graduation, she got busy learning what she needed to know. She worked with Texas Parent to Parent and other groups to learn as much as she could as quickly as she could. She’s worked things out so they can become Tre’s primary caregivers and help him with his services. They’ve redecorated a couple of rooms for Tre, and he’s set boundaries and ground rules for his new space. Moving forward, Tre is excited about exploring options for further education, visits with his siblings and parents, and connecting with his peers.
See also our page on housing choices for young adults with disabilities.
When Will was 20, he moved from our home to the home of his high school special education teacher. We knew she knew his needs, and now that she wasn’t his teacher, it was a good step towards independent living. She was paid out of CLASS funds and through Will’s SSI and food stamps card. That step really enabled Will to grow into an adult with new expectations, new experiences, new relationships and new social opportunities. He matured into a person who prefers adult activities and peer company. A person with unique needs and desires, someone ready to be as independent as possible. And it helped me get out of his way and let him be more of an adult.
See also our page on building independence.