Autism & Adulting - How You Can Get Ready for Adulthood
In this post, we’ll identify the tools you’ll need for planning and preparing your teen with autism for their transition to adulthood. I discovered a few key tools that were repeatedly popping up over and over again. And I’ve compiled them all into this toolkit for you to use. This makes adulthood easier to think about, figure out what is working for you and your family, and individualize the tools based on your teen with ASD and their interests and needs.
These starter tools demystify the transition process and allow you to take a breather. A breather for just a minute while we talk about the tools you and many families that have reached this stage before and after you will need. Note that you may already have a few of these tools in your toolkit. If this is true: go you!! If this isn’t true: that’s a-okay, no shame in this game.
Let’s jump in what tools you will need to help prepare and equip your teen, yourself, and your family for your next steps now and after high school…
01. KNOWLEDGE OF AUTISM IN ADULTHOOD
You’re already an expert on your child and know a bit about how they navigate school and the community. But things get a little more complicated as your child with autism grows up. During their teen years, there may be changes associated with puberty and hormones - autism symptoms tend to change and vary during these years, in addition to considerations with mental health (anxiety, depression) - that can sustain into the young adult years. Additionally, they’ll get to make decisions about what career they want to pursue, where they want to live, and where they want to go to school.
The key topics to know as a parent and support in your soon-to-be adult child with autism are: self-advocacy, employment/career path, independent living, postsecondary education/training, and adult services.
02. KNOW-HOW OF SERVICES
This tool is about applying your knowledge about autism in adulthood…and putting it to work in your local community. There’s a lot of great information online (including Autism Grown Up 😉), but there tends to be a lot of vital information that you need to know to actually access the services you and your child may need. There plenty of hoops to jump through when it comes to social services (whatever it may be called in your area) and they all require time.
Special education services are one system you’re familiar with by now, but services in adulthood a whole another game. Get to know these systems as soon as you can (pay attention to the ones you think you and your family will need), so you can create connections and get on waitlists ASAP.
Some common services to think about are (names depending on your location): vocational rehabilitation (job coaching, and job support services), social security (financial support), Medicaid (insurance).
As your child’s advocate, you’ve worked so hard to get the supports and accommodations they need. You’ve honed your skills as an advocate and they’ll come in handy for navigating adulthood. (Also in passing them along to your child).
As you navigate services in adulthood with your child, you’ll especially need this tool. Depending on your child’s and family’s needs, you’ll have to navigate a variety of service systems. Having the KNOW HOW (above in Tool #2) will help you in putting it into action.
04. INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS
One of the most critical (and underrated), your child’s independence within the home, community, and school. They’ll help contribute most to your child’s sense of being an adult and building a meaningful life for them. (And ease your worry about your child always being dependent on you.)
Here are some common independent living skills:
Laundry, cooking, housekeeping chores, personal/self-care, meal prep, healthy eating
Checking and savings account, budget, plan finances, weekly/monthly paycheck, funds from social security income, and debit card
05. TRANSITION PLANNING
Connect your knowledge and know-how to create a transition plan for your child as they reach the later years of high school. Focus on the topics above and outline short-term and long-term goals.
Note: In the workbook download below, I have a section where you can make an individualized transition plan for the next couple months to the upcoming year. If you have questions and want to walk through making your transition plan into action get in touch with me, I’d love to help you with this vital tool!
These are the 5 tools you’ll need in your toolkit as you prepare for autism in adulthood. I’ve also created a workbook (download below) for you to assess and take stock of where you are with your tools. It also includes a downloadable version of the tools that you can share with others and print for your personal use.