Posted By on June 30, 2013

I am asked frequently about my choices and decisions about my son ( referred to as C in this blog) who is now approaching 20.  I do not want this blog to be about him but more about what I have learned that might help others as they start to think about post high school options.  I will speak about C  in this first blog but will then transition to just general topics on transition.

Another goal of this blog is to follow C’s development and growth as a participant in Autistry Model Employment Program. Focus will not so much be on C but more specific to the goals of the program and the important skills that are developed.

Connor cutting plywoodI always believed that a diploma was the most important goal for him. He was on that track until at 17 I realized that he would be better served with school services until he reaches 21. I truly believed that a diploma would give him more credibility and recognition and provide more options. In reality C will always need support.  A diploma would not give him access to what he really would need to become independent. While we can get focused on cognitive abilities there are many things to truly consider when evaluating options post high school. Pushing further academics was also creating a lot of anxiety which interfered with overall growth for C.  There is a lot to  consider as well with services such as supplemental social security, golden gate regional center and how to ensure that our kids get the right support to move toward independence

043 Although C is 20 I am not so focused on his chronological age as he is still developing and may reach milestones at different times. Our goal is to work toward employment and Independent living. He changes every year and I have always tried to emphasize this to other families when considering options for their own kids.  Unfortunately we are forced to make many decisions when they reach 18 because that is the legal age that they are considered adults.

Conservatorship, partial conservatorship are definitely things to start considering long before our kids turn 18.  C is very self aware of what he can and cannot do and knows that he needs assistance.  You need to determine whether or not your son or daughter’s decision making at 18 is safe and whether they will involve you or be susceptible to others. I can offer more on this topic at a later date.

Ian and Connor building the trailerTransitions are as much about the family as about the child. As parents we need to work on fostering independence.  This does mean taking safe risks . For C this is allowing him to walk home from local venues, riding the bus  and purchasing items at a store on his own.  He is also letting us know that he “knows what he is doing” and we are working on listening and allowing him to make these decisions. For so long he did what we all asked him to do as we structured his day and had him learn what we knew was important for him. Now we are allowing him to tell us more about who he wants to be  which means not always wanting to please us or others when given a choice.

So this is my first entry on this blog.  I will post weekly and each blog will cover a different topic.

Autistry Model Employment Program has started and is going really well.  The 2 employees are really understanding collaboration and how important it is to work as a team.

About The Author

I am a a parent of a 20 year old with autism. I have been very active in our community. I started a baseball and basketball league for children and adolescents with special needs. I was one of the founders of It Takes a Village. I also served as a trustee on the Mill Valley School board and now participate in an advisory committee on special education.


One Response to “Transitions”

  1. Karen says:

    It was wonderful to read your blog and hear about C and your focus for him. Sounds like he has a great mom!

    The high school focus – certificate or diploma is an interesting situation. There are many capable autistic/asperger’s individuals who could get a diploma but who will also need services all their lives. It bothers me that the choice is not a free choice but a choice based on the threat that your child will lose services if he/she gets a diploma. The federal government bemoans the fact that more persons with disabilities are not graduating from high school – are changes coming down the line that would allow free choice?