Janet Miller | August 18, 2013
As I continue this blog I am going to refer to our kids as adolescents. As my son continues to remind me: they clearly are not kids anymore.
Several people have recently contacted me to talk about the lack of job training skills that our adolescents may be receiving as right now their full time job may just be to attend school. Also, not many schools integrate internships into the curriculum or as part of the IEP. Truthfully though this should really be part of any transition IEP. We need to create opportunities for our adolescents and we should find a way to get the schools to incorporate this into any IEP. You, however, must take initiative to discover these opportunities. An internship may be more appropriate than homework. A parent recently shared with me that the homework she has for her daughter is specific to life skills. This will ensure that there is continuity with these skills at home and provide better generalization. These skills may be cooking a meal or preparing lunch. If you have an adolescent who is strong academically but lacks basic hygiene or other skills that will allow them to be independent and also keep a job then you may want to consider how to balance this.
Consider transportation needs if your adolescent will not drive. Our son took the bus on his own last week and walked to his job. We had to be very strategic as for the past year as he has been very resistant to doing this on his own. He practiced many times and we are having someone shadow him. He had to be the one to tell us he was ready which I believe to all be part of his own growth. As I often share with others we just cannot get caught up with the time it may take to gain a particular skill as many of our adolescents can take a long time to get there but when they get there they generally retain what they learned. We also worry about how others will react to him in public when he starts talking to himself or pacing or even just looking up all the time. He is very comfortable sharing with others that he has autism and we have talked to him about what he would do if someone reacted to his behavior. He has some responses but most importantly he has a cell phone so he can call us or anyone else that he knows can help him. Some day he will be on his own and we have to face these issues now so he knows how to manage them. Very overwhelming as a parent. I am most motivated by the fact that I want his younger brother to have his own life and choices as he will likely be C guardian some day when we are no longer here. If C is able to live independently and work with support of GGRC this will not fall on my younger son.
We have identified 3 skills that we want my son to gain over the next 6-12 months. We are not specifically including this in his IEP as we are focused on helping him gain this outside of his transition program. We are just not sure that they have the resources for this and we are making this choice. He does get a lot out of his transition program but not necessarily all that we believe he will need to get to the point of living and working on his own. This is why he is also involved with Autistry. We do have to make tough choices about finances as we do have a younger son who will be going to college in a couple years.
Next week I will talk about GGRC. Summer is just about over and here we go into another school year.