Planning is the key to a smooth transition into adulthood
My name is Allyson. I am 23 years old and I have autism.
I felt very emotional and sad leaving my transition program. I wanted to keep in touch with my high school and my program friends. I miss seeing my friends every day and wanted them to remember me. I talked to my mom and dad about it, and they made me feel better by showing me how I can keep in touch with my friends.
I was very nervous starting a new phase of life with new people, but my mom helped me feel better about taking a new step. I still feel a little nervous, but also excited about finding a job and starting new adventure. I want to work at a bakery or a big kitchen part time. In the future I would like to have my own family and my own house living near my mom and dad.
In this Q&A with Allyson’s mom, Lisa, you’ll hear a mother’s perspective on her daughter’s teenage years and journey into adulthood.
What was your thought process as Allyson moved closer to aging out of the school system? Did you work with her teachers, therapists and support staff to develop a plan for transition to adulthood?
We wanted to make sure we would be prepared and had a plan in place for the Allyson aged out at 22. we inquired early on about any programs or assistance that she would be qualified for. Allyson’s teachers from high school and her transition program provided us with great support and guidance. They assisted us with what services to apply for and how to obtain applications. We also had an educational advocate that worked with us from when Allyson was in elementary school and stayed with us until she aged out at age 22. I believe she was one key factor that helped us get what we needed for Allyson to succeed. For example, we were not happy with the high school program offered in our town, so she assisted us in getting her into a school in a different district that best fit her needs. Allyson attended that high school and ended up exceeding our expectations and went on to an excellent transition program.
What were some of the biggest fears you and Allyson had during that time? How did you overcome those fears?
Allyson biggest fear was leaving her transition program, a place she had attended for four years. They knew her well and she had her routine down. My biggest fear was making sure the next step was a smooth transition for her. At this time, the pandemic was well underway and already had an effect, but we made the best of it. With the help of the staff from our programs, we took one day at a time and started to create new routine e for Allyson.
As Allyson was preparing to leave the school system, what were her hopes and aspirations for the future? How have you helped her attain them?
Allyson biggest aspiration was to be independent and have a job where she could earn money. One she could be proud of. We started working with our agency of choice, who would help us find a life skills person to come to our home and work on life skills with Allyson. The next step was to help Allyson work on her job skills. Allyson loves cooking and baking, so Massachusetts Rehabilitation Center helped us find a program where she could learn more about this field. MRC directed us to a program where she could take a culinary class that provided her with several certificates at the end of the course. They also had her working with a chef to practice the skills learned in the class.
What are some of the main reasons why Allyson has been able to make a smooth transition from teen to adult?
Allyson is driven. She has a positive attitude, wants to be independent and is eager to move on to next steps. Most importantly, Allyson has a very supportive and loving family that will help her in any way they can.
What has made you most proud of your daughter as you’ve watched her mature?
We are so proud of Allyson she has become such a sweet, caring, young woman, that no matter how frustrated or anxious she gets, she pushes through her anxiety or frustration and moves forward with a positive attitude.
What are your hopes for your daughter as she continues to transition into a new phase of life?
Our hope is Allyson will continue to be happy, confident in herself and independent. We hope she will find joy and what makes her happy in life and remember that she always has the support and love of her family.
What advice would you give to other parents who are entering the transition to adulthood with their autistic child?
My advice to other parents is never stop advocating for your child, no matter how old they get. It is never too early to find out what programs and services your child is eligible for or will be eligible for. These can be instrumental when planning for transitioning to adulthood. Ask questions even if you think it is not relevant. Lastly, family and close friends can be a great support system as you are helping your child navigate in the adult world.
Learn more about Allyson’s journey into adulthood in this blog by her mom, Lisa.