Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Discussion Post: Handling Grown-up Transitions

Little Miss M is only eight, so I look toward the future with trepidation and great uncertainty. I realize that nothing is written in stone for any child or person and that our futures can change in an instant.

While I don't know what tomorrow will bring for Little Miss M, it is our plan and frankly, our job to help her pursue whatever path she determines. Right now, she wants to teach Kindergarten. I don't know if that will still be her dream tomorrow or if that dream will be realized, but for right now, I am doing everything I can to help her gain the tools and the strengths to work with others in social situations. I am trying to help her discover her talents and her passions so that we can find productive fits for them in the outside world.

As you may know we often ask for Discussion Questions on our Facebook fan page. Lisa asked:  Have any of you older kids? How have they handled the grown-up transitions such as college, university. living away from home?

I recently picked up the book Different...Not Less by Temple Grandin, PhD. I confess I am just starting this read, but I look forward to it because it is stories of individuals who are now grown-up and are successful adults living with Autism, Aspberger's, and ADHD.

Different...Not Less by Temple Grandin, PhD ($18.99 iPhone/iPad).

We only got a few responses, but I felt like this was such an interesting topic, that I decided to explore it a little further here on the blog and see if we could get some more input.

Pam shared something many here may be feeling: Wish those were actually options for my son. His continuing medical needs coupled with his Autism and delays make home his only safe haven.

Then Geek Club Books shared another perspective: My son is 28 and transitions are challenging but with each one he goes through he gains more confidence which means an easier time with transitions. Typically he is anxious about the unknowns - new people, new responsibilities, new expectations, new adjustments. It's important that his support system stay alert during the transitions. We encourage him, remind him about how he was able to make it through other changes before, and step in when necessary.

Do you remember before you had kids or before you worked with children with special needs? What did you aspire to be when you grew up? For some, I am sure it changed from when you were very small to when you were at the cusp of adulthood. I always wanted to be a teacher and mother. My dreams were realized, but a different way than I ever saw coming.

I constantly have to remind myself that Little Miss M has accomplished so much in short life and that I cannot impose limits upon her. It is my job to set-up the atmosphere so that she can be as successful as possible. To that end, the Husband and I have decided to make sure there is always a place for Little Miss M in our home. We know that when we look for our next house, we would like the ability to have an in-law apartment or a space we could convert to a monitored but independent area for Little Miss M as she grows bigger. She talks about college, and we've told her there are many schools that she could attend if she wants to, while still living with us. Many colleges and universities have resource programs now for students who learn differently, but desire higher education. It takes some research and some planning, but it can be done. There are also many programs for adults (young and old) who need support in areas of social skills, life skills, and other areas -- they just have to be discovered.

Talk with your current school guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists. Discuss options or suggestions with your doctor's offices, your child's therapists (OT, PT, Speech, behavioral, psychological -- they all have connections!), call your local Autism Resource Programs, or Disability Support Services. A Google search can be a good start, as can local advocacy groups. In the States, most programs are state dependent and a lot of times programs are dependent on individual diagnose,s but there is support out there.

Here's a post I did back in October that had some suggestions for finding financial support, but there are links that will help in other ways too!

Please help us develop this topic and share your experiences or your thoughts on the subject in the comments below or email me at: amanda@smartappsforspecialneeds.com.

Amanda is scared thinking about Little Miss M changing schools after next year, thankfully Little Miss M usually handles these things better than mom!

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