I decided to keep a journal of what is happening in the process of transition for my son from High School to the Real World. I feel lost and I think other parents are probably lost in this process too. I kept telling I just need to run into 1 person who had their child successfully transition. I don't want to reinvent the wheel Someone recently said on a blog said, "You need to tell people what you are interested in." I am interested in my son having the best life he can have. I want him to be productive contributing citizen.
My son a high functioning autistic (HFA) is a junior and attends a special school that our local school district pays for in Washington State. The school is for kids with behavior problems and none of the students are intellectually disabled. Many students are there because the their behaviors have gotten them in trouble with the law. He is in a self contained classroom with 2 teachers and 2-3 aides and about 10-15 kids. Obviously, my son's behavior is not always in the socially acceptable range. His social skills and ability to handle frustration are low. However, my son is on track doing regular high school work. He is set to graduate in 2016. At graduation, he will be 17. He is no way ready to tackle the real world.
At my son's annual IEP (individual education Plan) meet, I was made painful aware that our home district had no idea how to transition my son. There was no plan and no way to develop a plan. Despite the teacher raising concerns and adding goals to the IEP and us parents raising concerns. The meeting left an overwhelming bad taste in my mouth from the district representative. I realized my son wasn't going to fit into the cookie cutter transition plan. I quickly became frustrated at how little information on how to plan a transition that fit my son's situation. I thank the stars from bloggers like Karen at Confessions Of An Asperger's Mom and the facebook community Asperger's Confessions.
Attended a meeting on DDA put on by Parent to Parent. My son would not qualify for any services through them because his IQ is too high even though his adaptability scores are quite low. I have provided below the basic qualification for spectrum diagnosis for DDA
The main language besides a autistic disorder of autism spectrum disorder is evidence of delay or abnormal functioning prior to age 3 in social, language, communication skills, or symbolic or imaginative play. AND adaptive functioning assessment with a score of 69 and below. Additionally a FSIQ of 84 and below (or statement of too severe to assess) for DSM-5 diagnosis
I can check this off my list. I learned that if you do qualify that you may not receive services because lack of funding. This is one resource that a child/adult can receive that is not based on their income. The speaker from the DDA was awesome. There are a number of changes upcoming for the DDA so if this is a resource you want to pursue check out their website and apply.
I went to the transition fair. There is are some options out there if you receive SSI. My son currently does not receive SSI. I got a great brochure from DVR with a good checklist. My son might be a candidate for running start if he wasn't a behavior risk. I did spend time talking with the community college and technical college representatives and there definitely some supports that they can make available to students.
April 13, 2015
I watched a Dateline episode(4/12/15) " On the Brink" on what happens to kids when they age out of the educational system. It was frequently called falling off the cliff. Seriously made me cry and I made me realize that my son while still higher functioning is going to face these same obstacles. I am on the cliff with my kid looking down. There is absolutely no net. Once school ends there are only resources that a parent goes out and gets for their child. Dateline had a resource list.. Notice the list is very short.
Adults with Autism often have Little Opportunity - This article is from USA today. I love the first sentence of the article - "Roughly one in 10 young adults on the autism spectrum apparently has nothing to do all day, and many more have very limited opportunities, according to a new study."
Young Adults with Autism More Likely to Be Unemployed, Isolated - this is from NPR and based on the same study quoted in the USA today article above.
None of these help me navigate to what my son needs. In fact, reading these will depress you.
As More with Autism Near Adulthood, Clues to Success Emerge-
"Significantly, those with the highest self-care skills — whether as adults or
in childhood — were most likely to maintain employment, work more hours and need
fewer supports on the job, researchers said."
I think we are doing an ok job on teaching my son self help skills. I hope to work more diligently during the summer on some of these - cooking and some hygiene stuff as well. Shaving and nail clipping are challenges with people who have poor fine motor skills
Why "High Functioning" Autism is so Challenging
What Will Happen When the School Bus stops Coming
I feel like mostly we are in the same spot as last year but my son is still on track to graduate. Treading water here. My son seems to be determined to end the year in a Blaze of Glory.
I sat at friend's graduation ceremony and realized my kid is not going to have that experience. The finish line for him is going to be different not less but different. The Poem below is one I found cleaning out my son's backpack
May the road lead you to adventure,
May all the challenges you face lead
May no matter what, you come back
And may you never forget me no matter
what. - CMR
I have come to the realization that solutions and opportunities most likely are going to occur outside the normal routes. The system is not going to help my son because there is simply not a place there for him. I think there is paradigm out there that needs to be broken on how we educated and prepare High Functioning Austics to live in the real world.
***My main goal is not only to document the steps I am taking but maybe someone out there has transitioned their child and has some additional insights. I feel like I am flying blind here. Feel free to leave a comment.