Have you ever just wanted to scream on our educational leaders and tell them that they have it all wrong?
So, now the issue becomes what happens at this point? I know that I am not alone when I say that it absolutely tears at my heart strings when I think of my intelligent, friendly, outgoing and able-bodied child having to work at a Burger King or attend a senior-citizen facility because there is absolutely no where else for my child to go to after that magic age of "21!" Now, let me preface myself and say that I am absolutely okay with people with ASD working in a fast-food store, a Walmart "esque" chain store and/or attending a senior facility if these "activities" are productive for them. But, what I want to stress is that there is a "spectrum" and with that we must remember that we have young adults that fall all across the spectrum. Just like we realize that there is "no one size fits all" educational plan that applies to every student with ASD (thus one of the reasons for needing an IEP) , we must keep that in mind when we think about the transitional piece that closely follows the "aging out" process. WE SHOULD HAVE MORE COHESIVENESS WITH OUR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS and the TRANSITIONAL PROCESS. We cannot continue to have our kids graduate and then begin to think about "what happens next." Why? Simply because by that time it is just way too late. There are far too many instances where are youngsters have officially left the educational system and then the parent realizes that they absolutely have nothing lined up for their "adult" children and now they are faced with "what happens now or who is going to watch my adult child so that I can go to work and continue to financially support this child?"
My child is 17 now, so Praise God, I have not gotten to this point yet, but, I am hearing this same story repeat itself everyday. This is why I know that we need to get out in front of this thing and address it before we age out another class of young people with ASD in June 2014! This is an injustice that can be remedied if we just begin to think about the educational process differently! So, why can't we do that?! My prayer is that if people have not already start to think about this, I hope that this post brings it to the forefront for someone and we begin to have the conversation. If all else fails, I know that knowledge is key and that with knowledge we are able to make better choices. I think that we can all agree that we are not discussing something trivial, this is not like we are discussing what handbag matches with the shoes we plan on wearing next weekend, but what plans are we putting into place so that we can ensure that our "adult" children have the best quality of life that they can possibly experience. Don't you agree that this at least warrants some real thought and a heartfelt conversation? I mean, we are not asking for anything more than what we demand for any other child - a right to a fair and appropriate education. A COMPLETELY fair and appropriate education. Our kids have been cheated enough in the ABBOT districts...please don't continue to cheat them out of the tools that they need to be productive citizens! Hey, last I checked, they are citizens of the USA just like me and you.