All parents worry about how to prepare their teens for life in the real world, however parents of kids on the Autism spectrum worry even more than most. How will they earn a living? How will they manage their finances? Where will they live? How will they maintain social relationships? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind when you consider the challenges your child will face beyond high school. Preparation throughout the teen years is the key to a successful transition into the real world for kids with Autism.
When should I begin transition planning?
You should begin transition planning at the age of 14 with assessments to evaluate your child’s skills, strengths and weaknesses. These assessments will lead to the culmination of an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), which will be put in place by the time your child is 16. You can also start exploring possible long term goals that your child can work towards, such as college or a career path.
Before their 18th birthday, you and your child will need to discuss social security, disability and healthcare benefits. If your child is ineligible for Medicaid, you will need to find an individual plan, as most health insurance plans will not allow children to be covered on their parent’s plan after the age of 19.
Employment opportunities for kids with Autism
Earning a living is one of the top concerns for parents of teens with autism. Fortunately, some employers are beginning to recognize the benefits of hiring those on the spectrum, especially in the computer and technology industries. Many parents focus on their child’s limitations and challenges in regards to finding a job, however people with Autism often possess many traits that are highly desirable to employers, such as honesty, strong work ethic, analytical skills, and organizational skills. Working with a job coach can help your child hone in on a particular job or career path based on their strengths and interests. Vocational training occupational therapy can help your child build specific skills for a job, discover an appropriate career and help individuals maintain employment.
Once a suitable career path has been established, on-site training can help teens prepare for what to expect from an employer-employee relationship and how to cope with unexpected situations on the job. We provide on-site training opportunities in culinary services, waste management, inventory management, vehicle management, environmental services and the donation center. If a career is preferred outside of these industries, we encourage teens to explore off-campus internship opportunities.
High functioning teens may be interested in attending college before stepping into the workforce, see our article on considering college for children with Asperger’s here.