Transition to Adulthood

What is Seconday-Transition?

Secondary-transition is the process of preparing youth for life after high school.  It is federally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to be provided for students with disabilities served through individualized education programs (IEP).  The transition process should start by age 16, but in Oklahoma it is upon turning 16 or entering the 9th grade --whichever comes first.  

What are the Topics Covered During Transition?  

During transition, students, families, school staff and other providers must consider and begin addressing the following topics:


Independent living skills
•    transportation, money, shopping, cleaning, food preparation, hygiene, accessing resources)

Self-advocacy
•    Self-advocacy involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions.  
•    Does the student know what things, people, etc. help them succeed?  Does he or she know how to ask for those things in an appropriate manner?  
•    Does he or she understand what accommodations are needed to support personal success rather than being given the answers on how to succeed?   
•    Does the student come to his/her IEP meeting, participate in the IEP meeting, or perhaps even lead the meeting?  

Self-determination
•    Does the student know about his/her disability and how to talk about its’ impact on life, school, work, etc.?   Do they know their triggers and sensory needs or aversions (e.g., lights, noises, smells)?

Further education/training
After high school, what type of further education or training will your youth have?
•    CareerTech program
•    2-year college or 4-year college
•    Specialized training on the job
•    Online training
•    Other?
•    Degree seeking?
•    Certification program?
•    Any other experiences?

Employment
After high school, will your youth work?
•    full-time
•    part-time
•    in community
•    from home
•    in a work group
•    in a family business
•    near the house
•    across town
•    in another town or state
•    independently, with a job coach, etc.?

Independent living
Where will your youth live after high school?
•    At home or with other family members
•    In a group home
•    In an apartment with or without roommates
•    In a dorm
•    In a house

Does your youth have the skills necessary to be successful in that environment?  If not, what can we begin working on to ensure success?

What about money management and transportation?

Leisure and Recreation

What types of activities will youth do when out of high school?
•    Sports or other
•    Crafts, Art
•    House projects
•    Volunteering
•    Reading
•    Computer applications
•    Gardening
•    Social activities



Current Outcomes for Adults with ASD

Why Should We Care so Much about Transition?

“Young adults with autism have a difficult time following high school for almost any outcome you choose - working, continuing school, living independently, socializing and participating in the community, and staying healthy and safe. To complicate matters, many of these youth begin their journey into adulthood by stepping off a services cliff. Access to needed supports and services drops off dramatically after high school - with too many having no help at all.”
        Roux, Anne M., Shattuck, Paul T., Rast, Jessica E., Rava, Julianna A., and Anderson, Kristy A. National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood.
        Philadelphia, PA:  Life Course Outcomes Research Program, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, 2015.

The research tells us that while overall the core symptoms of ASD (social interaction, communication skills, and restricted and repetitive behavior) improve with age for the majority of individuals with ASD, individuals typically gain more cognitive skills than adaptive skills through adolescence and adulthood.  The explanation for this, however, is not due to cognitive ability alone.  The research also tells us that individuals with ASD may be less likely to develop new adaptive skills due to decreased opportunities to acquire new skills and practice those skills (Levy & Perry, 2011). 

As self-advocates, family members, and professionals, the key to overcoming these barriers is intentional planning and preparation.  Successful transition from adolescence to adulthood for all youth, and especially for our youth with autism spectrum disorders, is possible by being proactive and intentional before, during, and after the transition process.

Levy, A. & Perry, A. (2011).  Outcomes in adolescents and adults with autism: A review of the literature. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 1271-1282.   

 

What is a Meaningful Life?

What is a Meaningful Life?


Everyone deserves the chance to build a life that is filled with opportunities to live, work, learn and play in places and ways that are meaningful to the individual.  The types of support and amount of support will need to vary from person to person to help ensure the individual as the best opportunity to meet his or her personal goals.

“Charting the LifeCourse” is a valuable resource to help you and your loved one think about what makes up a good life and how to build your capacity in working towards creating a meaningful life as one transitions into adulthood.  You can learn more about the Charting the LifeCourse framework at https://www.lifecoursetools.com/.   

 

Social Skills

Social Skills

When we think about the transition process and developing social skills, we need to consider just how critical social skills are to the success of the person with ASD.  We also need to keep in mind that the goal of social skills is not necessarily to make the person into a social butterfly.  The goal of teaching social skills is to teach the person the necessary social skills to competently function in work and leisure environments.  Because social expectations change as individuals get older, social skills are an area of focus that require constant attention and training.

There are a variety of methods that can be used to help teach social skills.  These methods include:
•    Using visuals
•    Role-playing
•    Supervised practice in real-life situations
•    Scheduling and arranging opportunities to interact with peers
•    Learning to use peers as role models
•    Addressing behavioral issues

Social Skills Resources

Skillstreaming
https://www.skillstreaming.com/
Skillstreaming is a research-based prosocial skills training program published by Research Press.  It uses a four-step approach to teach prosocial skills – modeling, role-playing, performance feedback, and generalization.  There are books targeted for different ages groups, including adolescence.

Jed Baker, PhD; director of the Social Skills Training Project
http://www.jedbaker.com/
Dr. Baker is an internationally recognized expert on managing challenging behavior and teaching social skills to children, adolescents, and adults who have social-communication difficulties, including autism spectrum disorders.  Dr. Baker has published several books on social skills, anxiety, and coping strategies.  He also has a channel on YouTube titled, “Jed Baker’s No More Meltdowns” where he demonstrates how to handle situations such as dealing with unexpected changes, accepting change at school, trying when it’s hard, and dealing with mistakes.  

Video Modeling/Prompting by Dr. Ryan Kellems
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0QLbauMmf8Xph4wfTGTtHQ
Dr. Ryan Kellems is an associate professor at Brigham Young University whose interests include video modeling and transition for students with disabilities.  He has created a YouTube channel that has a free collection of videos that serve as examples on how to help individuals learn how to complete social, occupational, and daily living tasks.   

 

Department of Rehabilitation Services

What is the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)? 

DRS is a state/federally funded agency to help people with disabilities.  DRS assists individuals prepare for employment, obtain employment and retain employment.  An adolescent who is 15 ½ years of age or older may be referred to DRS, and eligible individuals can participate in DRS programs as early as 16 years of age.  There is no maximum age at which someone can apply for services.  You can learn more about Oklahoma’s DRS programs at http://www.okrehab.org/.  

What does DRS provide?

DRS can provide (depending on the need and desire):

During high school
•    Vocational evaluations - help identify potential careers matching skills, abilities, and interests
•    Career counseling and guidance
•    Benefits Planning - working with a professional to determine how much a youth can work without losing Social Security Benefits as well as the benefits of getting off Social Security
•    Paid or unpaid work experiences - during the school day, evenings, weekends, summer
•    In the school district or in the community
•    Up to 10 hours per week
•    Last two years of high school
•    Job readiness training - collaborating with schools, evening events, school breaks
•    Writing resumes
•    Applying for jobs
•    Interview techniques and mock interviews
•    Reality Check exercises about what things cost
•    Work Adjustment Training - foundational training for those with more significant disabilities).  This includes how to be a good employee, search for jobs, interview, fill out applications, appropriate social skills and interactions with coworkers, learning and practicing work skills, observing/practicing in community businesses.
•    iJobs - summer job readiness training and paid work experience
•    Autism Spectrum Disorders Program – a program through Goodwill Industries of Tulsa that uses technology and targeted interventions and curriculum to help prepare youth with ASD for employment in the community https://www.goodwilltulsa.org/gwt/Vocational_Services.asp

After high school, DRS can provide: *
•    Job search assistance
•    Job placement
•    Job coaching
•    Further education/training
•    Assistive Technology
*Note: some services require financial participation by client

 

Secondary-Transition Resources

Information about the Transition Process

Adulthood Begins in Preschool, Peter F. Gerhardt, Ed.D.
https://medicine.yale.edu/lab/chawarska/autismcenter/conference/2019/  (Video near bottom of page)
Peter Gerhardt, EdD, has over 35 years of experience supporting adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders.  During this online presentation, “Understanding Transition to Adulthood Using Reverse Engineering,” Dr. Gerhardt reviews the wide variety of factors that come into play during the transition into adulthood, and he discusses his personal list of 10 critical life skills.  
 
Autism Through the Lifespan, Autism Society of America
https://www.autism-society.org/living-with-autism/autism-through-the-lifespan/
The Autism Society of America has created this section of their website, “Autism Through the Lifespan,” to provide information on what to consider and expect during each phase of a person’s lifespan.  Please check out the section on Adulthood to learn more about individualized transition plans, employment, driving, social opportunities and dating.  

Support for Self-Advocates, Organization for Autism Research
https://researchautism.org/how-we-help/self-advocates/
The Organization for Autism Research has compiled a number of helpful resources that are written specifically for self-advocates.  Self-advocacy involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions.  High school, college, independent living, romantic relationships, the job market, and a variety of other topics are covered.  

Transition Toolkit, Autism Speaks
https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit/transition-tool-kit  
The Autism Speaks Transition Toolkit provides individuals and families with suggestions and options to consider during this time of transition from adolescence into adulthood.  Self-advocacy skills, legal issues, housing and employment options are covered in this toolkit.     


Meaningful Life and Community of Practice Resources

Supporting Families project, Community of Practice and LifeCourse Tools
http://supportstofamilies.org/

 

Skill Assessments

Community-Based Skills Assessment (CSA):  Developing a Personalized Transition Plan
https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit/community-based-skills-assessment  
The Community-Based Skills Assessment (CSA) is an assessment tool for individuals ages 12 and over.  It covers eight different areas of functional life: career path and employment; self-determination and advocacy; health and safety; peer relationships, socialization, and social communication; community participation and personal finance; transportation; leisure/recreation; and home living skills.  

Essential for Living: A Communication, Behavior and Life Skills Curriculum, Assessment, and Professional Practitioner’s Handbook by Patrick McGreevy, Ph.D., P.A., Troy Fry, and Colleen Cornwall (2012)
This book includes a functional skills curriculum, assessment, and skill-tracking tools for students with moderate-to-severe disabilities.  It is especially useful for learners with limited communication repertoires, minimal daily living skills, or severe problem behavior.  

JobTIPS – Do 2 Learn
https://www.do2learn.com/subscription/do2learn_plus/jbtips.php
JobTIPS is an online subscription service for students and young adults.  There is both a student version and a professional version.  JobTIPS covers information about personal interests, finding and applying for a job, keeping a job, and social skills relevant to the workplace.  Resources include visual supports, graphic organizers, printable handouts, and video modeling.  There is a fee to purchase a license.     

Transition Assessment and Goal Generator (TAGG)
https://tagg.ou.edu/tagg/manual/overview
TAGG is an on-line transition assessment for secondary-aged youth with disabilities, their families, and professionals.  TAGG focuses upon student behaviors that are associated with post high school employment and education.  It will create a student profile, list of strengths and needs, and suggested IEP annual transition goals.  There is a small fee to purchase a license.  For more information, please visit the TAGG website listed above.  

 

Social Skills

Skillstreaming
https://www.skillstreaming.com/
SKillstreaming is a research-based prosocial skills training program published by Research Press.  It uses a four-step approach to teach prosocial skills – modeling, role-playing, performance feedback, and generalization.  There are books targeted for different ages groups, including adolescence.

Jed Baker, PhD; director of the Social Skills Training Project
http://www.jedbaker.com/
Dr. Baker is an internationally recognized expert on managing challenging behavior and teaching social skills to children, adolescents, and adults who have social-communication difficulties, including autism spectrum disorders.  Dr. Baker has published several books on social skills, anxiety, and coping strategies.  He also has a channel on YouTube titled, “Jed Baker’s No More Meltdowns” where he demonstrates how to handle situations such as dealing with unexpected changes, accepting change at school, trying when it’s hard, and dealing with mistakes.  

Video Modeling/Prompting by Dr. Ryan Kellems
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0QLbauMmf8Xph4wfTGTtHQ
Dr. Ryan Kellems is an associate professor at Brigham Young University whose interests include video modeling and transition for students with disabilities.  He has created a YouTube channel that has a free collection of videos that serve as examples on how to help individuals learn how to complete social, occupational, and daily living tasks.   

College Programs

Autism Support Program at the University of Arkansas
https://autism.uark.edu/  

RiverHawks Scholar Program at Northeastern State University
https://academics.nsuok.edu/continuingeducation/RiverHawks-Scholar-Program

Social Opportunities Program at the University of Tulsa
https://utulsa.edu/student-academic-support/social-opportunities-program/

Soonerworks at the University of Oklahoma
http://www.ou.edu/education/centers-and-partnerships/zarrow/sooner-works

 

Oklahoma-Specific Transition Resources

Developmental Disabilities Services, Oklahoma Department of Human Services
http://www.okdhs.org/services/dd/Pages/default.aspx
The mission of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) is to help individuals with developmental disabilities and their families help themselves to lead safer, healthier, more independent and productive lives.  DDS serves persons ages 3 and up who have a primary diagnosis of intellectual disabilities.  Persons served may also have other developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders in addition to intellectual disabilities.   

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)
http://www.okdrs.org/students/transition
The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) expands opportunities for employment, independent life, and economic self-sufficiency by helping Oklahomans with disabilities bridge the barriers to success in the workplace, school and at home.  DRS offers a wide variety of programs to help eligible students prepare for employment and life after high school.   

Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
https://www.goodwilltulsa.org/gwt/Vocational_Services.asp
The Transition Work Adjustment Training program at Goodwill Industries of Tulsa is designed for high school students in their junior and senior year to prepare them for entering the workforce upon graduation.  This program includes a program specifically for students on the autism spectrum.  Topics covered in this program include money management, appropriate work behaviors, basic life skills, safety awareness, and self-advocacy.  

Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment at the University of Oklahoma
http://www.ou.edu/education/centers-and-partnerships/zarrow
The Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment assists in successful secondary and postsecondary educational, vocational, and personal outcomes for students and adults with disabilities.  They do this through research, transition education instruction, and sharing of best educational and support practices.  Please visit their website to check out the Timeline of Transition Activities, Oklahoma Transition Council, and many more resources.

 

Finding a Place in the World Webinar

More children with autism are growing up and often struggle to succeed in the adult world.  Research has identified key factors that contribute to greater success in adult life.  The presenters will discuss and provide strategies for teaching key social and adaptive skills and strategies for increasing collaboration between parents and professionals to facilitate successful transition to adult life.  Participants will also learn about secondary-transition resources available in Oklahoma.

   Watch Finding a Place in the World Webinar

   Download the Finding a Place in the World Webinar Worksheet