Employment, education, recreation
Youth with special needs leaving high school have the same desire and need to participate in the community as their peers. Many youth with special needs require extra time and help transitioning from school to community life. Families are a key player in decisions related to transition to the community.
Preparation for transition covers areas that most people need when becoming an adult:
- Postsecondary education
- Independent living skills
- Recreation and leisure activities
If the youth has an individualized education plan, schools are mandated by law (starting at age 14) to write and implement a plan that includes a coordinated set of activities that help prepare the student for life after high school.
Transition goals are developed collaboratively by youth, family and school staff based on individual strengths, preferences and interests of the youth. If the youth or family expresses an interest in postsecondary education, know that rights and responsibilities within postsecondary education are different from high school.
Common postsecondary education options are:
- Technical school with support
- Two- or four-year college with accommodations
- Specialized programs for students with cognitive disabilities
Ranges of employment options exist for people with disabilities. These include:
- Volunteer work
- Competitive employment - working in the community with or without assistance from an adult service provider for paid wages and benefits typically provided for that type of job.
- Employment with accommodations - working competitively with certain changes to the work area, or with use of specialized equipment (such as use of assistive technology). People with physical disabilities often require these accommodations.
- Supported employment- working in a job in the community with support and assistance (such as job coaching) from an adult services agency.
- Self-employment - owning and operating a business to earn money. Usually this is done with support from an adult services agency.
- Community rehabilitation programs (sheltered employment) – Places in the community where work is done in a group setting under close supervision. Employees are paid based on piece rate or production.
- Day service programs can be an alternative to paid employment. These programs emphasize the development of social and functional skills and community integration.
Under the new long-term care system, integrated employment (a job in the community) is the preferred option for people with disabilities. Employment agencies that support individuals with disabilities provide a range of services that include:
- Assessment of job skills
- Work skills training, such as job shadows, short-term work experiences or vocational training
- Job development, with assistance in finding jobs that match the skills of the individual seeking employment
- Job support and training, such as on-the-job support for learning and performing job tasks. It can be temporary or long-term
- Benefits counseling to provide assistance for individuals who receive SSI or SSDI so benefits are not jeopardized by employment
Participating in leisure activities allows people to connect with others and develop social networks, friendships, hobbies and interests. Many communities have opportunities for both inclusive and segregated forms of social/recreational activities. These can include:
- Self-advocacy classes
- Personal development