In an effort to help families and their adolescents with autism more smoothly navigate the challenging transition into adulthood, Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, launched in February 2010 the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit, a unique guide and roadmap to help families on the journey from adolescence to adult life. The free Tool Kit, developed in conjunction with both parents and professionals, features a wealth of practical and actionable information, as well as links to valuable resources.
“The goal of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is to empower families and their adolescents with autism to build a strong foundation for an independent and fulfilling adult life to the best of their ability,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president of Family Services. “The transition to adulthood can be a scary and complex process, which is why we sought to provide information from experts – both professional and parents – to create a roadmap and a set of practical tools that will hopefully make this experience as smooth and positive as possible.”
One of the guiding principles of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is the need to develop self-advocacy skills for all individuals with autism. The kit identifies opportunities and resources to develop these skills with the goal of enabling the adolescent or young adult to participate to the greatest extent possible in their own transition plan. Other topics included in the kit are: Transition Planning and the IEP process, community life, employment, housing, post-secondary educational opportunities and health. Tips about internet safety and dealing with issues surrounding sexuality are also featured. A timeline and other organizational tools provide suggested structure for the transition process.
Autism Speaks offers the Transition Tool Kit free of charge. A standard version can be downloaded at www.autismspeaks.org/community/family_services/transition.php. Tool Kits customized by location are also available for families of adolescents and young adults and can be ordered by registering online. The Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is modeled after the popular and acclaimed Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families.
“The face of autism is changing with an entire generation of children on the spectrum making their way toward adulthood,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “While the transition process will be unique for each adolescent, we hope our Tool Kit will help families develop a successful transition plan that reflects the hopes and desires of their loved one living with autism.”