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Q:

How can I prepare my child with special needs for adulthood and independent living?

Hey everyone,

I have a child with special needs who is currently a teenager and I am starting to worry about how they will cope with adulthood and independent living. My child has a developmental disability and requires assistance with everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning and managing their finances.

I want my child to have a happy, fulfilling and safe life as an adult but I am not sure how to prepare them for this transition. What steps can I take to help my child become more independent and self-sufficient? Should I focus on vocational training or life skills? Are there any resources or programs available to help children with special needs prepare for adulthood?

Any advice or personal experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

All Replies

okeefe.margot

Hi everyone,

I'm a parent of a child with autism, and I've found that teaching my child how to handle money has been an essential aspect of preparing them for adulthood and independent living.

We started with simple exercises, like having our child count and sort coins, read grocery store receipts, and calculate value of items while shopping. We later taught our child about budgeting and the importance of saving by setting up allowance, and working out a plan for buying desired items upon completion of certain goals which matched their interests.

We found that it was necessary to teach our child how to use money in a practical sense. As a result, we assisted our child with opening a savings account, and we continue to work with them to track their expenses and manage their budget.

Another aspect that helped maximise our child's ability to budget was access to assistive technology. With technology advancements, there are several visual-aid apps that help support budgeting and money-management. We explore software and tools for budgeting which makes the process easier for our child.

In conclusion, teaching our child with autism how to handle money has been crucial in preparing them for independent living. By teaching practical money management skills and enabling the use of assistive technology, we are working to ensure that our child is prepared to navigate finances when living independently.

charity47

Hi there,

I'm a parent of a child with special needs and have been thinking about their transition to adulthood and independent living. Something that has been crucial for us is developing a support network for our child to rely on as they transition into adulthood.

We have encouraged our child to form connections with people in the community, such as teachers, therapists, and social workers, who can remain a source of support as they grow into adulthood. We have also been building relationships with our child's doctors to share our concerns and receive valuable advice.

Setting up a support network also includes creating a plan for when we are no longer here to care for our child. We have been working with our lawyer to establish legal guardianship and create a Letter of Intent that will outline our wishes for our child’s care and well-being. This puts our minds at ease knowing that our child will be cared for as best as possible even when we're not around.

We have also looked into long-term housing options for our child, including independent living or group homes, which offer structured living environments with trained staff to support individuals with disabilities.

In conclusion, having a support network for our child has been essential for us as we prepare them for independence. It has required a significant amount of planning, but investing in a solid support network that will help our child navigate the challenges of adulthood has given us confidence and gives our child better chances of success in their journey to independence.

dooley.brooklyn

Hi there,

I can relate to your concerns as I also have a child with special needs who is now living independently. For us, the key to preparing our child for adulthood was a combination of vocational training and life skills.

We made sure our child had plenty of opportunities to develop job skills through volunteering and internships, as well as attending vocational training programs. At the same time, we also emphasized the importance of everyday skills such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and managing money. We gradually increased our child's responsibilities around the house and encouraged them to take on more and more tasks.

One resource that was particularly helpful for us was a program run by our local school district called "Transition to Adulthood". This program helped our child explore different career paths and provided training in job skills, as well as teaching independent living skills such as managing finances and navigating public transportation.

Overall, my advice would be to start early and always be looking for opportunities to help your child build skills and increase their independence. Don't be afraid to ask for help and take advantage of resources in your community. With the right support and preparation, your child can have a happy and fulfilling life as an independent adult.

karli79

Hello,

I'm a parent of a teenager with special needs, and have been thinking about how to prepare them for adulthood and independence. One area of focus that has been helpful for us is developing our child's self-advocacy skills.

We have worked hard to encourage our child's self-expression and decision-making skills by allowing them to have a voice in their own care and future goals. We work together with our child's school to ensure they understand the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and what's expected of them, and we regularly involve and share our child’s point of views on every matter related to their care.

As they approach adolescence, we have also taught our child to take steps toward more active participation in their healthcare. As parents, we had held our child back on this aspect in the past, but we have recognized that learning to advocate for oneself is a critical step in not just healthcare, but all matters of life.

We have also sought support from community resources, which have been quite helpful. We attend support groups with other families who have children with similar special needs, to get advice, share experiences, and receive emotional support. This shared knowledge helps us to advocate for our child more effectively, and learn of employment and vocational opportunities others are involved with.

In conclusion, preparing a child with special needs for adulthood and independence is not a one-step process, but instead a gradual process that requires patience and skill-building over time. For us, developing our child's self-advocacy skills ensures that they will be able to advocate for themselves and make positive decisions as they become independent adults.

leann.gusikowski

Hello there,

I am a parent of a young adult with special needs and I have gone through the process of preparing my child to be independent. The journey wasn't easy, but it was worth it. My strategy was a focus on both vocational training and life skills, with emphasis on each as the situation demands.

Vocational training is great for helping children with special needs gain the necessary skills to get and maintain a job. For my child, I enrolled her in an employment training program where she learned how to complete job applications, write resumes, and go through the interview process. These skills put her in a good position to get a job she liked.

To make sure my child was able to live independently, we tackled life skills simultaneously. We started with small steps like helping out around the house with chores, then gradually teaching her how to cook, clean, and do laundry. We encouraged her to go grocery shopping, cook meals and eventually we moved onto budgeting.

We did face some challenges but the main thing for me was to not shield my daughter from all challenges. To truly become independent, she needed to face challenges on her own and learn from them. Regular meetings with a support group of parents with similar circumstances helped greatly. It was a time to not only draw inspiration, but share experiences and learn from each other.

In conclusion, while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, with an early focus on life skills and vocational training, access to a good support network, and continued guidance as they grow up, children with special needs have the ability to live happy and productive lives as independent adults.

kessler.oma

Hello everyone,

As a parent of a child with special needs who has recently transitioned into adulthood, I wanted to share my experience of how we prepared her for independence. One of the critical aspects that we focused on was gradually increasing her independence by allowing her to take on more responsibilities as she matured.

When it comes to developing life skills, we taught her daily living routines, like doing laundry, making her bed, and preparing her own meals. We also partnered with her school program to explore career options and introduced her to therapists who could assist with her physical and occupational needs.

To develop her social skills, we encouraged her to join after-school activities and clubs that matched her interests, and we formed friendships with those who were supportive of our family. Eventually, we even arranged voluntary opportunities for her in the community, which helped her build relationships and practical experiences.

Looking for housing options was another vital component of our preparation for her independence. We evaluated alternate living options such as group homes and life-sharing arrangements. This decision was made by primarily focusing on her preference after taking her to some of the potential living spaces, and we kept in mind the life she would like to have when we could no longer be of support.

In conclusion, our journey with our child was unique but seeing her move on into adulthood with confidence and independence was great. It required a lot of hard work, but the important thing is to focus on what works for you and your child. Gradually increasing responsibilities, developing social connections and exploring different living arrangements combined with support and guidance are essential steps towards independent living for children with special needs.

lkoch

Hi everyone,

I too am a parent of a child with special needs who is now an adult that lives independently. My child has a developmental disability and requires support with daily living tasks. Our focus was not only on vocational training and life skills, but we also took additional measures to help our child prepare for independence.

One of the things that helped us was to talk with our child early and often about their dreams, goals, and aspirations and what she wants in her life. With her dreams and goals in mind, we developed a plan that was tailored to fit her needs. To provide further support, we contacted organizations that specialized in job training for people with disabilities, and grouped together with other families in the same situation as ours to get additional guidance.

We recognised early on that our child needed additional support for sensory issues, and therefore integrated occupational therapy sessions where she learned coping strategies and sensory regulation techniques into her routine. We also provided mental health care for her over the years which helped her develop emotional resilience and healthy coping mechanisms.

Another crucial factor for us was housing. It’s important to note that children with special needs will continue to need support later in life, so we started scouting for housing options which accommodate adults with special needs. When she eventually moved out and into her own home, it felt like a natural transition for our child.

In summary, preparing children with special needs for adulthood requires a lot of planning and patience. By taking a multifaceted approach focusing on vocational training, life skills, emotional health, occupational therapy, and housing, with early goal-setting and the right guidance and support, it is possible to help them become independent and happy adults.

katheryn.haley

Hello everyone,

As a parent of a child with special needs who is now a young adult living independently, I want to share my experience and what worked well for us. In our case, the key to preparing my child for adulthood and independent living was to focus on developing their social skills, vocational training, and community integration.

It's easy to become focused solely on developing life skills, such as cooking and cleaning, which are important, but we found that social skills also play a significant role in supporting independence. We encouraged our child to join social clubs and volunteer in community activities that matched their interests.

Vocational training is also an essential aspect of preparing children with special needs for independent living. We took advantage of the free training programs in our community and worked together with my child's special education teacher to explore possible career paths. She would then take her career interests into consideration and suggest related vocational training programs that would be the most beneficial which gave our child some sense of direction.

We also prioritized developing community integration skills by seeking out opportunities for our child to get involved in the community. We encouraged her to participate in group activities such as sports clubs, book clubs, yoga classes, etc. Through these activities, she learned how to navigate her way through the community and build relationships with other individuals.

In conclusion, with the right focus, support, and resources, children with special needs can achieve independence and live fulfilling lives as adults. As a parent, focusing on developing social skills, vocational training, and community integration can make all the difference.

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