By: Lauren Fernandez, B.A.
Life transitions can be scary; especially for those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Transitioning out of adolescence and into the adult word is a crucial time for an individual with ASD. During this time, support is needed by family members/caregivers to help maximize the opportunities for the individual to participate fully in society (Thompson, Bölte, Falkmer, Girdler, 2018).
Some important life changes that are inevitable to occur may include transitioning to a new school, entering college, starting a job, or even living independently. Coming up with a transition plan and preparing for the transition in advance are two strategies that may be beneficial to help make any transition easier for the individual and their family (Autism Speaks, 2019). Government law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), mandates students diagnosed with ASD have the right to a comprehensive transition service during high school. This was implemented to ensure that while in high school the student has access to resources and supports needed to meet their desired goals to the best of their ability upon graduation. Even though a majority of planning the specifics regarding continuing education or employment occurs during the teen/high school age, it is best to start preparing early.
For example, Daily Living Skills are skills that the individual is going to need through life, so starting young may be beneficial to help ease future life transitions. With advocacy for Autism becoming more and more popular, there are many colleges, universities, and employers that welcome those with ASD. Some establishments even partner with ABA providers to ensure the individual is fully prepared for their journey into their new chapter of life.
Some Autism Focused Colleges
- Syracuse University: Syracuse University houses the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Learning. It is an institute that serves students with any intellectual or developmental disability. Syracuse has a separate program specifically for students with ASD, “InclusionU.” It is a program where students with ASD can participate fully in the college experience with supports in place.
- The University of Alabama: The University of Alabama offers “UA-ACTS”, which is a platform that helps students move from the high school environment into college living. UA-ACTS also advocates for and facilitates a campus that is ASD friendly.
- Rutgers University: Rutgers is home to the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center (DDDC), an ABA program which serves the needs of those diagnosed with ASD. The center offers a College Support Program (CSP) that guides students both academically and personally. Social groups, parent workshops, weekly meetings, and academic counselling are just a few of the services that are available through CSP.
Some Autism Friendly Employers
- Ford Motors: In 2015 Ford Motors announced their pilot program, “FordInclusionWorks” specifically designed for those with ASD to gain work experience through Ford. Ford collaborated with Autism Alliance of Michigan to offer on-site job training specifically tailored to each worker with ASD.
- Walgreens: Since 2012 Walgreen has partnered with Turning Pointe Autism Foundation to support the employment of those with ASD. Walgreens hosts “Walgreen Career College” that trains individuals in various areas of retail prior to entering the workplace. The Walgreen Career College in Illinois even has a mock Walgreen retail store for students to practice in!
- Home Depot/CVS Pharmacy/Fairway/Boscov’s (Part of “Kens Krew”): Kens Krew is a nonprofit organization that teaches vocational training skills and offers job placement services to young adults with ASD.
Like all individuals, those with ASD need support and encouragement to achieve their ambitions and goals. While facilitating an individual, it is important to remember this is their transition that needs to include independence and self-advocacy. Luckily, there are resources to help the individual navigate their transition, as well as their family.
ASD Transition Tool Kits
Below you will find a “Transition Tool Kit” that was put together by Autism Speaks for those living in New Jersey and New York:
More can be found at https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit/transition-tool-kit.
- Autism Speaks, 2019
- Thompson C, Bölte S, Falkmer T, Girdler S (2018) To be understood: transitioning to adult life for people with autism spectrum disorder. PLoS One 13:e0194758
- U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (March 2011). Transition of Students With Disabilities to Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators.
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