Transition into Adulthood - The Autism Analyst
Transition into Adulthood

The transition into adulthood can be a time of both joy and concern for parents of children with autism. There’s often new challenges to confront including: navigating the “how to’s” for work, dating and intimate relationships, establishing personal space and boundaries, self-advocating and self-disclosure, just to name a few!

Resources should be inclusive for parents as well as young adults living with autism to help them continue maximizing their independence. Current research supports that parents who feel more confident and are taught skills for supporting the transitional process, are more actively involved and report more overall positive experiences for both them, and their kids.

That’s a win-win.

Because changes in schedules, routines or habits can cause upheaval and an increase in behaviors with individuals with autism, many don’t like any changes to our routine – even minor ones. Individuals with autism thrive on predictability, routine and structure, and it can be very challenging to dive into a new routine, especially one that requires adapting to new schools, new people, a new job or new tasks. This makes being proactive about the transition process even more important.

With some research suggesting that as many as 50% of young adults on the autism spectrum are not always successful when transitioning into adult-related programs such as college education, employment, playing an active role in their community and in being sufficiently independent, a call to action is needed for both parents and young adults.

What these statistics and information tell us, is that while there are several excellent local, state, and federal programs that are geared towards helping with the transition process, more programs, more parent training and more support for young adults with autism are needed.

Tips For School Transition Process

  • A solid first step in preparing to transition your child into adulthood is to collaborate with their school/IEP team

  • Have a list of colleges such as 2-year community colleges and/or 4-year state universities that you and your child are interested in

  • Prepare for any standardized tests that colleges typically require (SAT, ACT, etc.). Or, if the tests have been taken, have your child’s results available. This may require obtaining the names and email addresses for all schools and departments for communication

  • Work with your child’s IEP team on how to prepare a letter for academic adjustment and/or your child’s listed needs for self-advocacy

  • Discuss all of your child’s interests and strengths with your child, and discuss any concerns or questions you have at the transitional IEP meeting and with college guidance counselors

  • Talk to, and have your child become familiar with specific college departments including: enrollment, financial aid, and academic advising. Because most college campuses will assign your child to a specific advisor, it’s suggested that they become familiar with the process of scheduling appointments, questions that should be asked, and forms that may be needed

  • Check out our blog and other specific sources on our website for the college transitional process

Tips For Work Transition Process

  • Assess with your child their likes/dislikes and strengths/limitations

  • Weigh the benefits and risks of employment for your child including their readiness to work

  • Use role-playing scenarios, or have them visit the company and watch the job being performed live by others, so that they gain exposure to the various situations that could come up in a working environment (see our Tips and Added References section for ideas)

Tips For Work Transition Process

  • Assess with your child their likes/dislikes and strengths/limitations

  • Weigh the benefits and risks of employment for your child including their readiness to work

  • Use role-playing scenarios, or have them visit the company and watch the job being performed live by others, so that they gain exposure to the various situations that could come up in a working environment (see our Tips and Added References section for ideas)

Tips for Self-Advocacy

Check out our Empower page for tips and resources to promote ongoing self-advocacy.

References

Kirby, A. V., Feldman, K. J. C., Hoffman, J. M., Diener, M. L., & Himle, M. B. (2020). Transition preparation activities and expectations for the transition to adulthood among parents of autistic youth. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 78

Nuske, H. J., et al. (2019). Broken bridges—new school transitions for students with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review on difficulties and strategies for success. Autism, 23(2), 306-325.

Educate. Empower. Accept.
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