Transitioning to independence during young adulthood
is a pivotal and challenging time for everyone. For young adults with special needs, these
periods can particularly difficult. People with special needs, such as autism
spectrum disorders or learning disabilities, may have social and communicative
deficits which will impair their ability to advocate for themselves. Adjusting
to having fewer and less structured supports is difficult and many teens and
young adults are simply unprepared!
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1 in 5
people in America have some sort of disability -- that’s nearly 50 million people!
As the special needs population
ages, and children with disabilities begin to transition to adulthood, often
the supports and services, to which they have become accustomed, will fade
away -- leaving them unprepared and under-supported.
In America, only 70.5% of all students graduate from high
school with a diploma, while only 56% of students with disabilities graduate!
(National Council on Disability, 24th Annual Report to Congress). Once
the existing supports that are present in high school (such as smaller class
sizes, teachers, and the support of parents while living at home) are no longer
accessible, the statistics become even more grim. For example, on average only
50% of students who enter college actually graduate. For students with
disabilities, only 8% who enter college complete their coursework and graduate.
The growing population of college-bound
students with disabilities, may need more support and assistance than is
typically provided or available to them.
The good news?
When young adults and their families recognize and prepare for the transition
to college and independent living, more positive outcomes are possible! Many
young people need explicit instruction, coaching, and practice to develop
independent living skills and learn the tools necessary for college life. There
are wonderful new programs available that can help teens and young adults get
prepared. These programs provide individualized life skills coaching for young
adults facing unique challenges, as well as skill-building and support in the
college setting. Practicing these skills in their community (i.e., on a college
campus, in their home environment) can help young adults gain confidence and advance
toward greater levels of independence. For more information on one such program
Advance LA is helping prepare young adults with special needs for their futures. This summer, they are offering two unique camps. The College Summer Intensive Program is meant to transition young adults from high school to college. This camp focuses on social skills, study skills, learning styles, time management, navigating campuses, self advocacy, independent living skills, and other skills needed for this transition. The Vocational Skills Training Program serves 18-24 year olds with autism spectrum disorder, learning challenges, and other special needs to help them focus on the world of work. Through a comprehensive vocational assessment, career exploration, training, workplace skills, and social skills sessions, individuals with special needs will learn what they need to know to enter the workplace. See the flyer below and visit www.advancela.org for more information.