What’s going to happen when school is over?
The most important thing for your child is to have a vision. A vision that you and them both talk about and agree to. Your child can attend college, vocational or trade school, receive job coaching/training, get a job, volunteer, own their own business.
Here are some statements you need to think about and discuss with your child:
- how would your child like to spend their days once they leave high school?
- where would they like to live (own apartment, campus life, home)?
- who do they want to live with (on their own, roommate, family)?
- other areas like transportation, taking care of their health, making decisions on their own, their circle of support (friends, coaches, employers) and more
How can I help prepare my child for the workforce?
Create a transition plan. This will begin in school. The law requires that your child receive transition services the year they turn 16, but some states start as early as 14. I would suggest that you look into your specific state guidelines. You may even want to bring in outside services to your child’s transition IEP meeting.
It’s also very important to start talking to your child at around 14 years old
- about if they want a job
- what their responsibilities might be
- help them to start understanding taking charge of their own schedule
- and knowing when their appointments are
You can also have them start participating in employment presentations from your local Down syndrome organizations helping to prepare young adults for employment.
Have them volunteer for certain jobs like at school, church or local organizations again where someone can help them a few hours a week to learn what having a job means and the responsibilities that go with it.
Have them do chores and receive allowances, so they can start to understand money management.
Help them to be proficient with technology like a cell phone, the internet, email. I would suggest that you create their own email and have teachers start sending them work on their email so they get familiar with how to use. Have them create an appointment on their computer calendar.
#3 -What should go in my child’s transition plan?
Here are some examples:
- Education, Career, Living options and Personal Life goals-short term and long term
- Transition services (including courses of study) need to help your child reach those goals
- Rights (if any) that will transfer from you to your child when they reach 18
- Strengths and talents (including awards)
- things they need to work on
- how they learn best
- accommodations that were helpful
- places or people that can help them
But it is also important for them to attend their IEP meetings. To understand about their disability and self advocacy. For them to know their choices about post-secondary or job track.
#4- What resources are available?
- Transition planning- deciding what your child needs to reach their goal
- Parent training – to understand your rights
- Financial planning – to understand government services available to your child
- Vocational Rehabilitation- Voluntary (mostly free)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)- can help you while you get more education and job training, helps to pay for basic needs. http://socialsecurity.gov (Search- disability SSI) 1-800-772-1213
- Work Incentives- Planning, assistance to develop work skills, help with SSI
- May be additional local resources
#5- Does my child have to work full time?
No and this is where SSI comes in. I would suggest you talk with your child about what they want and then find out what their benefits are and work with their employer so everyone is on the same page. The last thing you want is your child to loose their benefits.
Again their are a number of resources out there and I would like to suggest ordering this book “The Down Syndrome Transition Handbook” to start the process.
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