The following is information shared by HANDS in Autism in their January 28, 2017 newsletter.
As individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) transition to the college and employment level, they often are placed at increased risk. The IEP that was worked on and refined year after year doesn't apply to U.S. colleges and universities and the same adaptations that were of most help in high school may not immediately transfer to the workplace or post secondary training setting. At the college level and on the job-site, a new set of "rules" are in place with new social norms. These rules are based on different laws centered on the college-aged student or young adult.
Once in college, it is important to note that you are now required to request the accommodations that they may be needed. It can be further noted that the school/university is only required to provide the accommodations deemed "reasonable." Many of your parents and advocates who have previously considered themselves to be "experts", now find themselves shut out of the educational process due to privacy laws. A word to the wise - If you have experience making your needs known, you are typically more skilled and confident with the practice of doing so. This is the foundation to considering the skills teaching and transition planning that should be advocated for and developed early. Skills teaching should occur in relationship to self-advocacy, fostering skills and a setting for student-led IEPs, and supporting functional communication across all functional levels.
To assure that both you and your loved ones are best equipped to deal with the transition years successfully, it is important to consider and make note of the following:
Start transition planning early!
Experts say that transition planning ideally begins when children are very young, as parents and schools lay the foundation for skills needed to negotiate adult life. Parents and advocates should be asking, "What are the building blocks for independent living skills?" A strategy often used by experts in the field is picturing life at age 21. Use that as your rubric and start laying the foundation.
The payoff for learning these skills is high. Individuals with better daily living skills are also more likely to be independent in their job and educational activities. Schools often do not consider daily living skills when drafting an IEP for a diploma bound student. Yet, more than half of students with ASD who have average to above average cognitive abilities have deficits in daily living skills. Tackling these skills early is key!
Teach daily or independent living skills.
Daily living skills may include personal hygiene, housekeeping and handling money, among other skills. The more complex skills can be broken into smaller steps and gradually or successively added. Work and money management skills can begin by teaching simple chores for an allowance or having a budget for extras (e.g., snacks, movies) each week. Consider how you are being supported and how you could be working to become successively more and more independent in daily living skills. Do you need support regarding what to wear, helping pack your lunch, being reminding of appointments and when to leave, transportation to places rather than driving or using the public transportation system? Learning and teaching these skills is possible across a range of ages!
As part of the transition process, reach out and access the many resources that are available to support this planning and teaching. If you are unaware of the local, state, and national resources that you can access, feel free to be in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 317-274-2675. We are happy to help answer questions and connect you with resources that will foster thoughts on your child, student, sibling or personal interests, skills, abilities, and areas where more support may be needed.