Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Resources for Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum


For so many young autistic or ADHD adults who successfully negotiate high school, there's a bump in the road right after graduation. High school is quite structured, with a clear path to follow and few exceptions made. Accommodations are laid out clearly in an IEP. (We hope!) And, almost every peer is also attending high school.

After graduation, so many adults with special needs struggle. Suddenly, that clear path of kindergarten, elementary, middle school, to high school branches out into so many options. College, junior college, year off, job training, or work? All the flexibility is wonderful, and challenging at the same time.

As an example, while peers may be headed off to a four year college, many kids on the spectrum aren't ready for that level of academic rigor, or the life skills that college demands. While a junior college may offer more appropriate academics, the course load is flexible, which can be an advantage, or can provide too little structure. When students can skip classes, or drop them, or miss assignments without anyone overseeing, students may not be able to complete the courses.

At the same time, junior colleges and job skills training programs don't offer a clear social structure. There are students of all ages living all over the region, and in all stages of life, from high school kids getting a little extra academics, to employed adults going to school at night. All that variety can make it hard for anyone to meet appropriate peers, especially for those who struggle with social skills.

For many individuals, adding in some structured support can be transformative for special needs adults. It might be a social skills group, a more structured program, or work with a therapist or coach of some sort. This structure, combined with the flexibility of post high school eduction, can be the combination that brings transitioning young adults to success. I encourage any student who is struggling with making academic and job skills progress to look for an added source of structure to add into their program. My next few blog posts will highlight a few examples.

Image attribution: By Serge Melki from Indianapolis, USA (Frozen tree branches  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons