One of the biggest questions for parents of a child with autism is how your child will be able to succeed as an adult. Will they be independent or require group housing? Can they keep a job, or go to college? If they do live on their own, how will they know how to shop for groceries, travel on public transportation, or meet other people their age?
Even though there are many skills that should be introduced with a younger child, the official start on this path to adulthood recognized by many states including Ohio begins at age 14.
Upon entering eighth grade, your teen will need to focus on learning skills and performing tasks that will guide them towards that finish line of adulthood. Future Individualized Education Program (IEP) documents will be keeping the post-high school path in mind, whether it is college, employment or another path.
Planning for Transition Based on Your Child’s Unique Needs
Focus on improving your child’s academic and functional achievements to facilitate the change from school to adulthood activities. Before the transition from school, plan for a coordinated set of activities for your teen, based on their needs, strengths, preferences and interests.
Think beyond the IEP to what you want for your child, and the best path to get there.
Build and Maintain Your Team
Does your current team serve your child’s adulthood needs? What kinds of professionals will be helpful? Milestones offers families and individuals consultations to help with the process.
Develop your plan for:
- Post-secondary education or training.
- Employment or what will they do during their day.
- Leisure time.
- Support services.
- Financial needs (SSI, Waivers, Special Needs Trust, etc.).
- Medical, behavioral and theraputic services.
Milestones Magic Numbers Checklist: What to do when my child is 14, 16, 18 and 22
14 years old
- Transition to high school.
- Needs a transition statement in IEP.
- Can be referred to Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) to prepare for employment options in the future.
16 years old
- Needs a more in-depth transition plan in IEP that is connected to transition statement and future planning outcomes.
- Research and tour post-secondary educational settings if appropriate.
- Complete re-eligibility with Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities called the OEDI (Ohio Eligibility Determination Instrument).
- Can get driver’s license (can use disability specific agencies).
- Can begin travel training with RTA and get disability fare card.
18 years old
- Decide if your child is graduating and exiting school, doing a social graduation and remaining at school for more transition based services or not doing the social graduation and just continuing IEP programming.
- Age of Majority - If parents are not pursuing guardianship, the child needs to give permission for parents to participate in meetings, receive any communication about etc.
- Apply for Guardianship as needed (various levels of guardianship options) must wait until the child actually turns 18 to apply.
- If parents feel that their child could still benefit from services at school, they must demonstrate that the child has not met all IEP goals and could benefit from more educational training.
- Can register to vote and if applying for FAFSA in the future, must apply.
- Must register for the draft, will be excused due to disability, but still must register.
- If child does not have driver’s license or bus ID, a state identification card should be applied for to ensure the individual with ASD has some form of government identification on them.
- Can apply for Medicaid and SSI based on their individual income, not parent’s household income.
22 years old
- Must exit from high school by age 22 (can be the exact date of birthday or shortly before or after).
- Only receive services from Adult Providers.
- Transition to adult medical care.
- While early intervention, childhood-based and school services exist, adulthood services specific to ASD are limited.
- Transition to employment, day program or post-secondary education as appropriate.
At any time:
- Begin a Special Needs Trust or an ABLE account for financial planning in the future and to ensure that the child will qualify for benefits like SSI and Medicaid if needed.
- Can apply for Medicaid before 18 if 1) parents are beneath federal poverty level or 2) they are given a waiver through their County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
- Be placed on waiting lists for waivers (SELF is highly recommended for individuals with ASD).
- Age Appropriate Transition Assessments (AATAs) should be occurring throughout all years in high school to help determine needed services to achieve desired goals as an adult.
Issues to Consider
As you plan for the path to adulthood, keep in mind these issues about transition:
The IEP team which helps guide the transition process, develop a plan and review progress, does not continue to meet. After your child leaves high school no requirement continues for an adult team to meet on behalf of your child like the school IEP team. Once your child with ASD graduates from school, there is no legal mandate that says the school has to help appropriately connect with adulthood providers and supports.
You will need to plan for the transition of your young adult’s healthcare. Less than half of US youth with special health care needs receive the health care transition supports and services they need, according to the 2009-2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.
“In the United States, thirty-five percent of Autistic 18-year-olds go to college. Of those American Autistics with university diplomas, only 15 percent are employed. This 85 percent unemployment rate (among college-educated Autistic adults) is massive—the general population’s unemployment rate (at all education levels) is only 4.5 percent."
-- Thinking Person's Guide to Autism blog article, "Why Is the Autistic Unemployment Rate So High?"