Students with Autism, Asperger’s, or learning differences who move beyond a postsecondary program such as CIP have often accomplished a number of personal goals that have helped them to build the skills for independent living. The transition to next steps can often seem very intimidating for many young adults, including those with learning differences.
Fortunately, those who have come through CIP often acquire many skills including those related to time management, success in the workforce, communication, money management, and health and wellness skills. These increased skills are often the equalizer that is needed to go out and secure stable employment, housing, and establish a network of friends who they can rely on.
Even though a student’s new living arrangement may not have the same structure and support, the student can successfully transfer the skills they learned at CIP to their new living environment.
Click here to view five resources for a smoother transition to independence.
Establish a Structure
One of the first things to do once a student is in a new environment is to establish and maintain structure. This might begin by creating a calendar with the student that has a list of weekly tasks or appointments. This may include exercising, going to the library, or attending a community event. It may also include chores such as laundry, cooking, housework, and maintaining their hygiene. These are activities that the student has become used to and need to be implemented to help preserve the structure and balance that has been established in their life. The schedule should also include social activities. This may include visiting with family or friends, or attending social events where new friends can be made. Calling friends and family from home may even be done as a part of the transition plan while the student is preparing to move on.
Structuring the students day in a consistent way is also very important. Waking up at the same time each day, eating breakfast, and showering at regular times are a few small things that can help maintain stability in a student’s life. This is something that has been practiced at CIP and needs to be continued once the student moves on after attending the program. Signs such as staying up too late, oversleeping, and skipping meals can be red flags that a student is reverting into older “unhealthy” behaviors. Click the image above to view a sample schedule.
Hiring a Life Coach can also be a maneuver that can greatly help with transitioning a student. This individual can help your student in a number of ways including with employment, choices of schools, and other major life decisions that are goal related. The Life Coach can also act as a neutral third party helper who can help students and parents reach a decision in a productive manner.
No matter what the circumstances, this process will be a challenging one. If, however, the parties involved can acknowledge all the hard work that has already been accomplished, then this is just another step in the process.
About the Author: Vincent Szymanski MEd, CAGS
Vincent Joined CIP in February 2016. He earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling in 2004 and his Certificate of Advanced Studies in 2006 both from American International College. Vincent has worked with a very diverse group of students over the years, particularly at the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center where he served as the counselor and director for a total of nine years. In addition, Vincent has experience in substance abuse education and counseling, peer mediation counseling, and in teaching special education mathematics.