Transitioning to Adulthood Info for Children with Autism – The Autism Exchange

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<!—Daily Living / Transitioning to Adulthood —> Transitioning to Adulthood Info for Children with Autism – The Autism Exchange

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Every parent of a child with autism is going to face the day ‘when the school bus stops coming’.  With lots of preparation, organization, and a strong support system, transitioning into adulthood might not be as daunting as it seems.  Preparation for transition begins as early as age 14 in the school district with the transitional IEP.  The IEP will include Community Base Instruction (CBI), which means going out into the community on a regular basis, and life skills training with measurable outcome strategies, which help prepare the student to be able to function as independently as possible.  The long term goal is to be able to eventually live and work in the community in some capacity.

Transitioning to adulthood should be focused on the areas of independent living skills which are the tools young adults need to navigate in today’s world.  These tools should include safety skills, time management skills, daily living skills, work/study skills, self-care skills, social relationship building, personal finance management, community navigation skills, self-advocacy skills, home management skills, career planning skills, and work-life skills, which is the ability to merge all these skills.  Furthermore, life skills need to incorporate ‘theory of mind’ which is the ability to recognize other people’s feelings and emotions, to be able to act appropriately, to have the ability to read body language and visual cues of others, to recognize and cope with emotions, and to reduce anxiety and stress.  Social skills should also include executive functioning skills which address the ability to plan, organize, utilize feedback, suppress stimuli and respond appropriately.

Also included in life skills is job training and development of soft skills needed to get a job, keep a job and become a good employee.  Life enrichment programs are also very useful to help with self-improvement, decision-making, task completion and community involvement.  Parents may reach out to family services and case coordination services in their community and make sure evaluations are preformed on adaptive functioning skills and strengths and weaknesses rather than IQ.  Autism is a spectrum disorder so some young adults will be able to work in the community, some need supported employment and others need employment programs.  Some may need to be in an autism day center which focuses on continual life skills training, job training, CBI, and an eventual part-time job in the community.  Others may be able to be in a day program for adults with different developmental disabilities.  Some may continue on to post secondary educational institutions such as universities and state colleges that provide accommodations for special needs, but not modified curriculum.  In the near future, however, modified curriculum will be available for special needs post secondary students.  In communities where there is no placement for young adults with autism, some families have started small businesses which benefit not only their young adult but also many others in the community.  Whatever pathway your young adult chooses in life, having independent life skills will be crucial in the transition to adulthood, and ultimately to leading a productive and meaningful life.

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Related Sites

Autism After 21
Description:  Creating life skills opportunities for independent living.

The Help Group
Description:  This site offers programs and services for teens and young adults with autism. These services include coaching one on one, residential living programs, workshops, and college/career planning.


A Full Life with Autism: From Learning to Forming Relationships to Achieving Independence by Chantal Sicile-Kira and Jeremy Sicile-Kira
Description:  A guide to help young autistic adults cope with resource services, separate living facilities, job searches, and satisfying relationships.

AFLS Community Participation Skills Assessment Protocol (Assessment of Functional Living Skills) by James W. Partington, Ph.D. BCBA-D and Michael M. Mueller, Ph.D. BCBA-D
Description:  This book highlights 8 basic areas essential to gain independence for the child with autism. Over 250 functional life skills are assessed with this protocol.


Transition Tool Kit
Description:  The Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit was created to serve as a guide to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood. The kit includes a transition plan, community living, self-advocacy, employment and much more.

Adolescent Autonomy Check List
Description:  A check list of some of the necessary life skills of the young adolescent in transition.

Parent Forums/Blogs

Some forums require you to sign in to Yahoo or Facebook to locate forum names.

Forum/Blog Name:  Disability Blog
Description:  Blog discussing transitioning into adulthood through a guide entitled “Life after High School.”

Consumer Corner

Fraser Transition Services
Description:  Work with individuals and their families to help them better understand and address the key issues of education, employment, community living, and community integration.

Kaleidoscope Autism Services
Description:  Provides community, work and home based services to adults and children on the Autism Spectrum. The support staff, social workers, job coaches, licensed therapists, and psychologists partner with family members and existing providers to create individualized goals allowing the team to help improve their life experiences.

Community Library

Autism Into Adulthood — Making the Transition
Description:  This article describes the services needed for young adults with autism to transition into adulthood.

The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
Description:  Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to «think in pictures,» which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

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