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How to Plan for the Transition to Adulthood for Your Autistic Child

How to Plan for the Transition to Adulthood for Your Autistic Child

As parents of a teen with autism, you are entering one of the most critical phases of their life journey: the transition into adulthood. This period of time can be both exciting and daunting, as it opens up a world of possibilities and challenges for your autistic child. While your child often experiences a higher degree of autonomy, services offered decreased and there are new systems to navigate. 

As they reach the age of adulthood, your role of parent may be evolving from direct caregiver to supportive guide. Along with your evolving role, you are also likely thinking about future employment, potential changes in living arrangement, further education, guardianship, and services accessible as an adult. Planning ahead of time with a team in place can help this often overwhelming transition be a little easier.

Start Early

The key to a successful transition is early planning. If you can, begin the process during your child’s teenage years, or even earlier if possible. Involve your child in the discussions and decision-making as much as you can, considering what you know of their preferences and goals. During this time, get your child in the habit of making simple choices whenever possible (i.e. what clothes to wear, what to have for lunch, etc.) to improve and exercise decision-making skills.

As you begin to make a plan, collaborate with your child’s teachers, therapists, and professionals to develop a personalized transition plan that addresses their unique needs and strengths. 

Consider Career and Vocational Training

Understanding your child’s strengths and interests is crucial when planning for their future. Discover what they are passionate about, as this can help guide them towards a fulfilling career or educational path

Based on what you know of your teen, explore the various career and vocational training options available to your child. Many communities and organizations offer programs, like the Gersh Experience, and workshops specifically designed to support autistic individuals in developing job and academic skills, and finding employment opportunities. Work closely with the program’s directors as they assess your child’s interests to match them with suitable job options.

For teens interested in pursuing higher education, the focus should be on investigating colleges with inclusive support services tailored to the needs of autistic students. These may include social skills training, counseling services, and academic accommodations.

Independent Living Skills

Teaching any child essential life skills is key for their independence in adulthood. Often, our focus as parents tends to divert to academics, but there should be an equal focus on areas such as cooking, personal hygiene, finances, using public transportation, and household chores. These skills help to empower them to lead more independent lives and participate actively in society.

Guardianship and Legal Considerations

As your child reaches adulthood, they become legally responsible for making their own decisions. Depending on their level of independence and cognitive abilities, you may want to explore guardianship to ensure their safety and well-being. 

Along with help from you, there are new resources available upon reaching adulthood in your state. These are often available to assist with housing, recreation, employment, and transportation. They must be determined eligible to utilize these services. 

The transition into adulthood is a significant milestone in the life of your autistic child, and proper planning is important for a successful journey. Gersh Experience offers a post-secondary transition program for young adults who can use support on their journey to independence. Reach out here if you are interested in learning more about our day and residential programs. 


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