Transitions: Diploma and Services

| July 10, 2013


Alex and Jack working on college homework

I appreciate the feedback from my first blog. I really hope that others will post comments so that this can be interactive. Please share your experiences as we can all learn from each other. Ask questions too. This is probably the most difficult transition as there are a lot of decisions and choices but resources and options can be more limited. There continues to be a lot of focus on early intervention and while I have read a lot of articles about the need for services and support as our kids’ transition out of high school, I have not found many practical options.  Janet and Dan are truly visionary and in my experience parents are the ones that have to create the opportunities.


Working on the trailer

I did touch briefly on the topic of diploma vs. certificate of completion and services. A diploma just terminates the school district’s responsibility but there are many students who get a diploma and then can access Golden Gate Regional Center Services if they have qualified or perhaps another agency depending on diagnosis.  I believe the most important factor in this decision is really about goals and expectations post high school.  The transition IEP and planning should really start at age 16 if not sooner. Very important that you have an awareness of not just cognitive functioning but level of independence. I really encourage you to also seek out employment opportunities or non paid internships while your adolescent is in high school so you can evaluate level of independence and what type of support if any will be needed.   Determine your son/daughter’s interest and seek out an opportunity. I found an internship for my son at a local record/CD store as he knows a lot about music. The owner was a friend of a friend and at first was not sure but now 2 years later really appreciates our son.  C also worked for my company which although was not optimal was a great way for me to assess his skills and determine structure for him to be successful.  C worked very hard and was a lot more independent then I thought he would be and got along with everyone.  My staff asked for him to come back the next summer. I chose instead to have him participate in Autistry Employment Program which is much better for C to gain his own independence.  He and Ian have completed building a trailer and are now working on a shed commissioned by a customer.  I will share more in my next blog on the critical employment skills being developed there.

The most important take away for you when evaluating a diploma is really just to be sure you have an appropriate plan after high school.  If they are no longer eligible for services after high school can they attend a community college or any university on their own? Or can you afford to privately pay for some of the programs that are out there to help our kids’ transition? Golden Gate Regional Services will assist with some of these programs if the school district is no longer providing services.


Noah air nails his parcour vaulting horse.

I have talked to too many parents who are not looking beyond graduation from high school as working so hard to help son/daughter earn the diploma.  I am really encouraging you to have a balanced look at your son/daughter’s overall skill and what will be needed post high school to continue to develop and be successful.   A diploma is great and a worthy goal if it makes sense for the student.  Be sure you are working with your school district on an appropriate transition IEP. You need to be strategic with your future planning.



| 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.