What Are Transition Services?
Despite their strengths and talents, some young adults with disabilities struggle to “launch” as they transition into adulthood. This can be particularly true of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but other challenges such as significant depression or anxiety, learning disabilities, or poorly-treated ADHD can create major barriers, too. Sometimes parents have these concerns about their high school-aged sons or daughters. Sometimes a young adult goes off to college, only to struggle socially or academically or both, before dropping out or being academically dismissed. Those experiences can leave the young adult demoralized and confused about what to do next.
Transition Services are designed to help young people avoid these negative outcomes. Using person-centered planning, our team of providers works with clients (and their parents) over the course of a year to help the young person develop and carry out realistic life plans. These plans can address educational goals, employment interests, greater awareness of aptitudes and interests, growth in self-confidence and social skills, or any other major life goal. In short, Transition Services are designed to strengthen a client’s self-determination as he or she launches into adulthood. We are here to help that person embark on a plan that will lead to as much independence and life satisfaction as possible.
Who Can Benefit from Transition Services?
Transition Services are best suited for high school or college-aged individuals (ages 14 – 24). Clients may be in school, have jobs, or have neither as they struggle to figure out “what’s next.” Youth and young adults participating in Transition Services may already be engaged with Vocational Rehabilitation or looking to find out more about VR or related government-funded support and services. We can help young adults find and utilize these resources. Parents often report concerns that potential clients have few friends, spend most of their time online gaming or watching YouTube videos, and lack the intrinsic motivation needed to change that lifestyle. We can provide support related to improving social communication skills and building a social network, as well.
How Do Transition Services Work?
Transition Services begin with an intake process involving both the young adult and his/her parents. Each of these family members complete a separate intake form to provide us with life context, current needs, and life goals of interest. A 90-minute intake appointment is then conducted by either Dr. Anna Merrill (psychologist) or Dr. David Parker (Postsecondary Disability Specialist & ADD/Life Coach). Dr. Merrill or Dr. Parker would review responses on the intake form, get to know the young adult and his/her parents, and begin the process of helping the client identify important life goals we can help become a reality.
The intake process helps us work with the client and his/her parents to create a Transition Services Plan. This document identifies the client’s goals, interests, concerns, and resources. It also identifies specific goals the young adult wants to work on in the year ahead (which can change as the client engages in and learns from goal-directed experiences). The client schedules monthly meetings with Dr. Merrill or Dr. Parker or both, depending on his or her unique needs. Both providers are skilled at working with high school and college-aged youth with disabilities to help them progress toward their goals.
During the year, we also help the client (and parents) network with other resources in the community who can help the young adult put their plan into place. These resources might include other CRG providers (such as medication providers) or professionals in private or government agencies. We help the client coordinate their interaction with these resources. Throughout the year, we monitor the client’s progress toward goals, adjusting the plan and use of resources as needed.
At mid-year and then at the conclusion of the year, we also help the client prepare and present an informal update on his/her progress. Both times, we schedule a meeting at CRG and invite the parents and other providers working with the client to participate. The client determines the best way to update the group on his/her goals, what progress is being made, what barriers have been encountered, and what remaining work lies ahead. Our goal is to empower the client to self-advocate in this role by taking the lead in describing the work being done.
At the end of the Transition Services year, we use that final meeting to determine with the client and his/her family what if any services continue to be needed.
Where Can I Learn More?