Steps to Help Transition your Child into Adulthood
You have been integral in guiding your child through each step of their lives and you can help guide their steps also as they transition from being completely dependent into taking the next steps into adulthood. Depending on your child’s disability, this step can be challenging. Educating them on what could be next – post-secondary school, finding a job, maybe finding a home of their own – you can help to make the transition easier and empower your child to step outside their comfort zone.
1 – Build up your child’s self-advocacy skills. Regardless if your child has a disability or not, everyone needs to have a strong sense of self including: strengths, abilities, interests, values. Those attributes make them unique. If your child has a disability, it may take you showing them how those qualities can translate into the workplace, or the community, or furthering their educational career. Your child needs to be able to explain that to others. Being able to advocate for themselves will help them take on responsibilities at work or even help to transition into independent living.
2 – Expand support networks. We’ve all heard “it takes a village to raise a child.” Why limit this concept to children? We all need a strong support system and building your child’s will help them find others to lean on, learn from and build friendships and relationships of their own. Parents may feel a bit uncomfortable allowing their child to develop new relationships, but building natural relationships and friendships is very important for ALL young adults. Get your child involved with volunteer opportunities with your church or other non-profits in the community; involve them in recreational activities or professional groups where they will be able to build their social circles.
3 – It’s never too early to start building a resume’. Your child’s is going to look very different than the traditional resume’ you may be thinking of. Volunteer activities, part-time jobs, the ability to show potential employers their abilities, initiative and dedication through the completion of tasks and activities. Use your circle of friends, family and other social organizations to find summer jobs or volunteer opportunities.
4 – Developing “soft skills.” Soft skills aren’t something which we traditionally think of as a priority when looking for a job or interacting within the community. However, they are skills that are necessary to interact day-to-day in the workforce. These could be: accepting direction or guidance, being on time, handling conflict, making decisions with confidence, and engaging an appropriate communication. It could also include how to dress for the workplace, asking for help, what to do when you’re sick. Many of these “rules” are unspoken, but for someone who may have issues with social behaviors, sometimes these need to be outlined.
5 – Money Management. Every child could benefit from learning about finances. It is important to educate your child on managing their money. Developing skills through saving, spending, gift giving and budgeting can build self-determination. Parents can help by opening accounts for their child and taking them to the bank to deposit their allowance, paychecks, or that birthday money grandma sends Show your child how to use the ledger in your checkbook, ATM cards, and how to be accountable for paying bills and managing their accounts.
6 – Check out housing options. Depending upon your child’s level of independence you may need to consider several options. It may be appropriate for your young adult to stay in the family home, others may be appropriate to live in residential housing with assistance and services, or they may be completely able to live in an apartment with or without roommates. If your son or daughter receives county services, your case manager/SSA (Service and Support Associate) may be able to help you explore your options.
7 – Get ready for change. Preparing your child for changes to come and helping to guide them through challenges along the way will help them be successful. Help them to figure out next steps when needing to make decisions and recovering from a mistake. You will be able to help them establish values and guidelines and prepare for the next steps.
Allowing your child to learn and grow and become their own advocates will empower them to be a part of their community and feel as though they are providing value to those around them. A sense of independence and value can boost your child’s confidence and ease the transition into adulthood.