Posted By Janet Miller on February 10, 2014
So I have not written in this blog for some time and I apologize. My intent was to do this more regularly but perhaps monthly is a better goal.
A parent forwarded another great transition blog written by Laura Shumaker. What was of interest is that she has a son who is now 20 and comments on the same things. There is a lot of focus on early intervention. We need to create the opportunities for our young adults. This means that we must seek out employers, internships and volunteer opportunities. We must create a stronger circle of resources for our young adults.
The topics are very similar because as we transition our kids we are all consumed with the same concerns. I often say if I could live forever I would not be as worried about my son’s future. I would not care if he lived at home but that is not the case. My focus is getting him employed and into a supported living situation. He is 21 years old this year but our goal continues to be to transition him gradually and by age 25. He is the one that told us 25 and we are trying to follow his lead while gently guiding him.
Connor has been attending a county program since finishing up high school. This is a program that stresses very little academics and has a lot of down time. We decided to have Connor attend as he needed a place where he would be engaged and around others his age. There was also a very structured transportation element that would facilitate independence in taking the bus. We had only hoped to have Connor attend for a year as we worked to figure out other post high school options. He is now in his second year and really thriving. What has happened is Connor has taken complete ownership for this program. He knows on what days he needs to bring lunch and makes his own without any involvement from us. On the days he goes to Safeway he checks with his dad about what he should purchase. Connor will also buy things that he needs like mouthwash or toothpaste. He monitors this on his own. He gets ready in the morning on his own and is always ready when the taxi arrives. We in fact do not need to be home. He is also taking the bus on his own. He is given money at the beginning of the week and has to budget for the week to cover lunches, bus fare and trips to Safeway. I share this as sometimes as parents we walk away from some programs without considering the long term impact. I have actually never visited this class when in session as I knew I would be looking for something else. Connor is almost 21 and he needs to make his own choices and also be responsible for his activities. We have really stepped back and we are the ones who are also transitioning.
Connor has 3 different part time jobs/internships including the Autistry Model Employment Program. He works hard at these jobs and we are hopeful that this will be a foundation for future employment as he has acquired great skills and understands better the work environment. We await word from the Department of Rehabilitation as we hope to transfer Connor to paying jobs. I will blog about that journey. We still have not accessed GGRC but will be soon.
* For more information on Transition and to meet other community leaders, service providers, and parents join us at the Marin Autism Collaborative Annual Meeting, Saturday, March 8th, 9am – Noon at Marin Office of Education, 1111 Las Galinas Ave, San Rafael. There will also be a panel of young adults with autism speaking about their transition and work place experiences.