Thursday, May 5, 2011

Autism and Setting Goals for the Future



One of the most common questions parents have is "What does the future hold?".  My answer is never very satisfying because none of us can predict what it will look like for each individual child.  But one thing I do always say is, the sky is the limit.  Have the highest of expectations but live in the now.  It is hard to not think about 10-20 years down the road but also important to not overwhelm yourself in the process. 

What to keep in mind:
  • Quality of Life - This is different for every person and also different for every person on the spectrum.  Try not to put desires of society but rather the individual desires.  Happiness and health is what is most important and this looks different for every person depending on what they enjoy about life.
  • Social Needs - As with overall quality of life, this may look different than the "norm" for those on the spectrum.  One or two friends that enjoy the same interests as the individual may be satisfying enough.  There are also many of adolescents and adults that enjoy the interactions that online gaming gives.  Sometimes talking through the X-box Live or computer headset can be less intimidating and more rewarding. 
  • Jobs - Tied into quality of life, is career path.  There are jobs that can be satisfying for individuals on the spectrum that may not be as enjoyable for others.   Assessing skills for that job are not just what is written in a job description.  Social abilities are tied into many jobs and must be taken into account when choosing a career path. 
  • Life Skills - We underestimate how early we need to start teaching skills for daily living.  We become so focused on academics of school; reading, writing and arithmetic.  Life skills are just as important: time management, budgeting, hygiene, cleaning, to name a few.  Start early with gaining independence. 

Resources:
  • Coulter Video - We have previously mentioned Coulter videos regarding siblings.  They are an amazing resource for adults as far as videos to transition to adulthood and articles such as 'Secrets to Job Success'.  Information on this site is invaluable for parents and professionals.
  • Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit - Autism Speaks does it once again.  This great transition kit answers a lot of questions and gives a lot of strategies.  This kit helps to know what to prepare for with community living, self-advocating, employment, housing, etc. 
  • Realizing the College Dream by Ann Palmer - Ann Palmer created a perfect guide for parents.  Being a parent of an individual with autism allows her to touch on the most important issues parents are faced with when considering higher education.
  • Preparing for Life by Jed Baker - Dr. Baker helps with life skills for success into adulthood.  Conversational difficulties, reading non-verbal cues, dealing with frustration and relationships are a few of the covered topics.
  • Life Skills for Secondary Students by Darlene Mannix - This workbook helps go through various activities involving life skills that are necessary for more independent living.
This is only a brief list of things to consider and resources we hope to continue to add to!

-Abby

4 comments:

  1. Oh, wait, there's a FUTURE too?

    Kidding, kidding. From my experience in EC teaching, hygene is tricky. Like, they want to be done cleaning, so why put on deoderant?

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  2. Hygiene is a very difficult area. We often have to break things down into small steps but also the internal "I don't want to smell for others" isn't always there. Definitely an upcoming post!! Thanks, Brian!

    -Abby

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  3. Thanks for pumping out the posts while I'm in exciting N. Dakota for work Abby! That's a great point about hygiene Brian. I'll post about that in the next few days. As Abby said, we have to break up the steps so we'll try to show a few example of different ways we can do that. Thanks again!
    - Molly

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  4. Leading to as much independence as possible - worthy goal indeed. Barbara

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