Parents play a central role in supporting their child toward becoming an adult. Children with disabilities often require so much support to help them through their day-to-day challenges that it is easy for parents, who are persistently on the front line, to overlook opportunities to guide their children to learn and practice skills that will be essential in adulthood.  Some behaviors that have been acceptable in a child interfere with the emerging adult participating in post-secondary education activities, receiving adult services or beginning to work.  Success in adulthood depends in part on behaviors that are compatible with working and studying in an inclusive community.  Those behaviors are best learned prior to adulthood.  An assessment of the child’s current skills and behaviors provides a baseline to establish goals for the home.  No matter the level of a child’s skills, increasing skills will increase independence.  The parents’ responsibilities include:

Checklist for home:

  1. Hygiene – is your child as independent as he or she can possibly be? Are there activities of daily living that he can learn to do on his own?
  2. Meal preparation – is your child able to get his own meals? Can he learn to prepare any part of his meal?
  3. Shopping and marketing- is your child able to make a marketing list? Can he learn to navigate a market?
  4. Safety in the home- is your child able to be safe on his own? Can he learn to manage an emergency?  Increasing abilities in this area can help your child be safer, even if he is not able to be left on his own.
  5. Laundry- is your child able to participate or learn to be independent in washing, folding and putting away his laundry?
  6. Daily routines – Is your child independent in waking up and going to sleep? Can he dress himself?  Independently toilet himself?
  7. Involvement in the community, which will be available after secondary education
  8. Ability to express frustrations in appropriate manner

Graduation from high school or aging out of the school system is an important milestone in a child’s life whether one has autism or not.  Being well prepared and having a plan can make the difference between a smooth transition and one fraught with difficulties.  Formal structures exist to guide this transition.  Parents should ensure that these components are in place to facilitate their child reaching his or her potential as a young adult.

“Originally published by Autism Parenting Magazine at www.AutismParentingMagazine.com.”

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