Next Stop: Adulthood
Next Stop: Adulthood
This June, 27 students from the senior class at The Vanguard School will move one step closer to adulthood. One student is headed to college, one student will be going to a full time Vo-Tech program, one student will be attending a full day training program, one student will be entering the workforce, and the remaining 23 seniors will continue on at The Vanguard Transition Center. Of the students continuing in the Vanguard Transition Center, four students will be attending community college on a part time basis, one student will be attending Eastern University on a part time basis and three students will be attending a Vo-Tech program on a half day basis. This unique center offers post-secondary education, career development, and social and life skills development to young adults ages 18-21 who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, mild emotional disturbance, and/or neurological impairments.
What features should families look for in a transition program that prepares students with special needs for adulthood? Jacque Murray, Director of The Vanguard Transition Center, recommends:
- Offer vocational skills development: Real-world work experience and the development of job skills are vital elements of transition preparation.
- Flexibility: Programs that serve students with a range of abilities can offer greater flexibility if a young person’s plans or needs evolve. Support for students can include pursuing post-secondary education, employment, or transitioning to support from adult agencies.
- Playtime: Young people crave friendships and social connections and can benefit from guidance and facilitated opportunities to form them. Structured opportunities for recreation can increase self-esteem and broaden students’ experience of the world, as well as providing pleasure, physical activity, and fitness.
- Supplementary courses: Courses and discussions on self-advocacy, understanding ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and Section 504, current events, human social development and sexuality, and health education are important elements of preparing for life.
- College readiness support: Students preparing to attend college or who are currently enrolled in a post-secondary program such as a community or four-year college or university or certified trade school, need instruction in study and social skills, and support navigating the college environment.
- Referral/Liaising with Adult Agencies: The program should assist with planning and making relevant connections for students who will continue to need the support of adult agencies
Here are some additional resources for families researching transition programs: