Reposted from 2017:
For parents of children with ASD and educators alike, The National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood (Roux 2015) provided many thinking points when it shared it’s findings in a 68 page comprehensive report in 2015. The report tackled the complex issues that young adults and their families experience when they leave the security of the public education system and begin to transition into and explore postsecondary options.
Many services that individuals with ASD and their families rely on while moving through K-12 grades disappear or become more difficult to access once their child reaches 21 years old, and ages out of the services that public education is mandated to provide. At Hopkins Education Services we are passionate about improving the lives of individuals with ASD and believe knowledge is empowering. With these ideals in mind we will focus our upcoming blog posts on this robust report by breaking it down into manageable pieces for caregivers and educators. We will share simple ‘next-steps’ for families to take positive action and begin thinking about their child’s future with a positive mindset.
The time is now for transition planning.
My experiences as a high school special education teacher and case manager has shown me that beginning to plan for post-secondary options at the start of 9th grade may be few years too late, in many cases. Many individuals with ASD require structures and time to develop the numerous academic and life skills required to be independent and successful in college or at work. Any parent would agree with more than 4 years to plan and work toward post-secondary goals of individuals with ASD.
Current law, called Indicator 13, requires schools to plan for transition and postsecondary goals when a student reaches the age of 16. Goal areas that parents should ensure the school is addressing at this age include: continued education/training, career/employment, independent living skills, community experiences/independence, and realistic transportation options. Many of these goals should be developed with the intention that the student/child will be as independent as possible based on ability.
This independence and success for individuals with ASD can be taught and promoted as we have recently learned from The Loving Push: How parents and professionals can help spectrum kids become successful adults written by Temple Grandin, Ph. D. and Debra Moore, Ph. D.
It has been my personal belief that empowering individuals with ASD and their parents to think about and plan for adulthood beginning in 6th grade. I realize that many things can change between 6th and 12th grade, but the skills needed to be successful and independent in adulthood are universal.
At Hopkins Education Services we work with youth to overcome behavioral, social, and communication obstacles through our programming. A program with a focus on developing independence and resilience in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Years of experience developing individualized transition plans proved to me that planning must begin earlier than high school. The reality is that 60% of special education students do not have transition plans that meet federal timelines or have measurable goals at 16 years old (Roux 2015).
Find more details from the graphic below.
As parents you can take an active role in ensuring that your local school is planning for your child’s future by asking some questions. Our recommendation is that you begin to think about:
Are there measurable postsecondary goals that covers education or training, employment, and (as needed) independent living?
Are postsecondary goals updated annually?
Is there evidence that the measurable goals were based on age-appropriate transition assessment(s)?
Are there transition services in the IEP that will reasonably enable the student to meet his or her postsecondary goals(s)?
Do the transition services include courses of study that will realistically enable the student to meet his or her postsecondary goal(s)?
Are there annual IEP goal(s) related to the student’s transition service needs?
Is there evidence that the student was invited to the IEP meeting where transition services were discussed?
If appropriate, is there evidence that a representative of any participating agency (related to post-secondary options) was invited to the team meeting with the prior consent of the parent or student?
Accessing the supports that are available while within public education is crucial as the National Autism Indicators Report (Roux 2015) reveals that
services drop off significantly once individuals reach the age of 21.
In our next blog post we will discuss the ‘services cliff’ that many individuals with ASD and their families fall off of when leaving public education.
Roux, Anne M., Shattuck, Paul T., Rast, Jessica E., Rava, Julianna A., and Anderson, Kristy, A. National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Life Course Outcomes Research Program, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, 2015.