Where Do I Start?
The most important place to start the transition process is with your child, who is now an adolescent with autism. His or her hopes, dreams, and desires should drive the transition process. Some individuals with autism can verbally communicate their goals and ideas for their adult lives. These conversations should serve as starting points to develop their transition plans. Transition planning is not a single conversation, but rather a process that will evolve over time. Some adolescents may not be developmentally ready to tackle the transition process. Others may be unable to express their wants and needs for the coming years due to limited communication skills. This is particularly challenging for families, as many want to provide their adolescent with the life that he or she wants. The transition process will take time. It is important that you work with your adolescent to provide the communication, self-help, and self-advocacy skills that he or she needs in order to be an active participant in the process.
“Self-advocacy is a life-long endeavor, and the teen years offer a particularly fruitful moment for cultivating self-awareness, self-monitoring, and deeper exploration of what it means to be autistic, by way of peer discussion groups. Self-advocacy differs from advocacy in that the individual with the disability self-assesses a situation or problem, then speaks for his or her own needs. Learning how to do this takes practice and direct instruction. Too often, we raise our kids, treat our patients, and educate our students without ever speaking to them directly about autism. Perhaps we’ve made assumptions or even harbor fears that they aren’t capable of self-reflection. Yet if we deny kids this very important aspect of identity, we limit their ability to become the successful adults we want them to be. As with any academic subject, teaching self-advocacy takes training as well as knowledge of and respect for the disability movement. Parents can model self-advocacy at home, teachers can offer curricula in school, and most importantly, peers on the autism spectrum can offer strategies for good living and share mutual experiences.”
“Self-advocacy plays a vital role in nearly every aspect of life…The more self-aware people on the spectrum become, the more they can be players in advocating for their own comfort, happiness, and well-being.”