Transitioning to Adulthood 

We suggest that you begin consideration of transition issues even during pre-teen years. It is helpful to give yourself time to think about options long before decisions are required. We recommend Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit as a great organizational and informational resource.

Some things to think about include:

  • College – If college is a viable option, be aware that educational institutions are beginning to provide increased support for individuals with disabilities, including Section 504 plans. A “certificate” earned through an IEP will not be recognized by most colleges and universities; a high school diploma or GED will be required.
  • Employment – By 10th grade, a student with autism can be part of the Vocational Rehabilitation planning. Additionally, we suggest applying for the Big Brain Staffing database through our Project Fulfillment program.
  • Guardianship – The only way for a parent to maintain the ability to make decisions for their child beyond the age of majority (usually 18) is to be given legal guardianship (a court-ordered arrangement that gives one person legal authority to make decisions on behalf of someone who has been deemed “incapacitated.”) This process may require an attorney and take months to complete.
  • Health Insurance – Private insurance policies may allow continued coverage for disabled adult children.
  • Seizures – It has been estimated that 25% of individuals with autism begin to have seizures during puberty.
  • Sexuality – Often, sexuality is overlooked for this population. For many on the autism spectrum who require support, caregivers must consider this aspect of life to be sure that individuals have sufficient self knowledge and personal safety skills.
  • Social Security – An adult deemed “disabled” by the Social Security Administration may be eligible for either Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) or Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”).
  • Transportation - If a driver’s license is an option, consider opportunities to provide extra practice as early as possible. If not, think about increased training in the use of public transportation, bicycling, or walking trails.
  • Waivers – Some funding is available through Medicaid waivers, but typically a long waiting list exists to obtain a waiver “slot.” Talk with your service coordinator about how and when to get on these waiver lists.