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There are many skills necessary to be successful as an adult and life skills for adults with autism are even more important. Entering adulthood comes with new responsibilities, concerns, and learned independence. As a parent of a young adult with autism, I know you have come a long way from the initial diagnosis to the ups and downs of watching your child grow and become more independent. Now, it is only natural to think about what your young adult with autism will do when they transition out of high school. And you may question if they have the necessary life skills to be successful. This is why transition planning is very important to guide your family through this process. With transition planning, you will be able to discuss postsecondary options for your child and have a better outlook on your child’s future.
Let’s check out the most important areas for life skills:
Have you thought about where your child will live once they become an adult? Housing is a major step in the transition to adulthood. As your family determines your child’s level of independence once they leave high school, you can then prepare the best housing option for them. There are several living arrangements for adults with autism. For example:
- Independent living: If your child is able to live independently, they would be able to rent or own a place to live such as an apartment, house, or condo.
- Assisted living: In this situation, your child would live in a building in their own apartment with other individuals that may need some assistance for services and/or emergencies.
- Group home living: If your child would benefit from living in a group home situation (4 – 6 individuals live together in a home run by an agency), they would receive assistance based on their needs by trained professionals. In a group home, they would also participate in organized activities arranged by staff members.
- At home living: Some families with young adults with autism find that staying at home (the house they grew up in) is a much easier and comfortable transition to adulthood. Living at home, provides familiarity and a level of support for your child to be successful as an adult.
Teaching daily living skills starts when they are very young. As your child becomes older, daily living skills will include hygiene, dressing themselves, grooming, shopping for clothes, and doing laundry. To combat each of these things, it is important to break down each of these skills step by step until they master each independent living skill. For instance, if you are teaching laundry, you could provide them with a visual with laundry steps and focus on one step at a time until they master each task. Teaching these daily living skills as they become young adults will help the transition to adulthood happen much easier.
Despite your child’s challenges, they will form some relationships. Whether the relationships are friendships or sexual, you will need to prepare you child for them. It may be difficult to talk to your child about their sexual feelings, but you must educate them about changes in their body and any feelings that may arise. You want to prepare them with the proper social skills for making friends, maintaining relationships, and dating. Help to keep an open line of communication with your child by remaining positive and nonjudgmental, to invite open dialogue.
Managing time is an important life skill in order to be successful in life. However, children with autism typically have a difficult time managing their time and staying organized. To help them manage time effectively as an adult, provide them with tools to prioritize and organize their time while they are in high school. For example, helping your child create a weekly calendar that lists all of their activities and appointments will help them assume responsibility and complete tasks in a timely manner. Luckily, there are many apps that will help your child stay organized. In addition, creating an organization system for homework assignments, such as color coding assignments by subject, will help them stay organize during college or any other future educational activities.
We all have hobbies and interests that brings us joy. Children with autism typically have specific interests that they like to focus on. This can help you as family find a defined path for them to follow as they transition out of high school. Additionally, participating in these hobbies can lead to lifelong friendships. When you introduce your child to new people who have similar interests, this will help them make new friends and provide a support system for them as the become older. In addition to the above life skills, it is important that your child also learns the following tasks and activities to create a more balanced and independent life for themselves:
- Nutrition and cooking
- Using public transportation
- Talking on the phone
- Maintaining a home
- Communicating through mail, email and text messages
- Utilizing the bank
- Creating and managing finances
- Using credit cards
It may seem overwhelming to think about your child as an adult with autism, but it is important to successfully outline and plan before graduation to help them with a smooth transition out of high school. Remember to participate actively in your child’s transition planning at all IEP meetings to develop the appropriate life plan and resources for your child’s future.
AND FINALLY DO NOT FORGET YOUR Resources!!!!
To further assist you with your child’s transition to adulthood, utilize the links to previous posts in this article and the FREE printables below. ⇓⇓⇓
What plans has your family discussed for your young adult with autism?