With 1 in 54 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s clear there is a growing wave of teens with ASD moving through our educational system. While there are more resources and treatment programs for teenagers with ASD than ever before, parents and caregivers need to plan for the future, so teens with autism can transition to adulthood as smooth as possible.
Helping Teens with Autism Plan for the Future
Completing high school and the prospect of life after school is an exciting and daunting time for both neuro-typical and neuro-atypical young adults. Parents, caregivers, and families may find this transition especially stressful. It is a time in every adolescent’s life where they expect and need increased levels of independence, responsibility, and control over their life and decisions. Yet, ASD can make this transition complicated. Thus, teens with autism and their families need to plan early for the future and transition to adulthood.
First, educators, counselors, family, caregivers, and the teen with ASD need to work together to build a transition plan. For many children with ASD, federal law requires an individualized education program or IEP while in public school. An IEP ensures teens with autism receive specialized instruction and the support services they need while in school. Creating a transition IEP may look at several options for the autistic teen such as:
- Staying in high school until they turn 21
- Explore higher education options such as college, community college, or trade school
- Finding employment or working with a job coach
- Addressing where the individual with ASD will live as an adult (for example, independently, supervised living, or group home)
As a transition plan is developed, parents need to make sure they stay up-to-date with the programs, services, and legal status of the teen with ASD. Every state will have a slightly different process to register for benefits through its developmental disability agency, and eligibility requirements may change with age. It’s important to make sure teens with autism are on the correct waiting lists for programs, home placement, or other support services.
Transitioning from Adolescence to Adulthood
No matter where a teen falls on the spectrum when they turn 18, they’ll be legal adults. However, a young adult with ASD may not be able to decide about their finances, work-life, or health care without support. Parents and caregivers need to explore the legal options available. It may be useful or necessary to attain the power of attorney so parents or caregivers can make legal decisions on their behalf. Parents will need to explore their health insurance options to see if the young adult with ASD qualifies to stay under their coverage or will Medicaid, Social Security, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) need to be pursued. These areas need to be explored, and parents need to educate themselves about them sooner rather than later.
How Ascend Autism Can Help
Making the transition from adolescence to young adulthood doesn’t need to be an issue for families with ASD members. With the right support, teens with ASD can set clear goals for themselves as they leave school and enter adulthood. Here at Ascend Autism, we can help parents and caregivers lay the foundations through ABA therapy for a smooth transition to adulthood. It begins with our early intervention programs and continues through our social skills treatment and parental support and education programs. We offer a complete range of therapeutic services to help children and families with ASD get the most out of their life. So reach out to us today at 877.323.8668 and learn more about us.