The parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a lot of concerns. One of the most pressing worries is how to prepare their child for the future. Here’s how.
- Utilise Support Services: Look for services in your community for help plan your child’s future. The Sanjay Shah Autism Rocks Support Centre in Dubai offers services as does Ambitious About Autism in the U.K. You’ll find a variety of services for planning your child’s future as an adult and resources for care when you’re no longer able.
- Begin Teaching Independent Living Skills at an Early Age: Choose age and ability-related tasks and teach your child how to dress, bathe, do their own laundry, put clean clothes away and make meals.
- Periodically Have Your Child Assessed for Progress: Assessments allow you to measure progress and growth and help you document areas of disability. They let you know which areas need more work.
- See if College is a Possibility: Many children on the spectrum and other special needs children attend college successfully. Programmes are available to help autistic children learn the skills they need to excel in school and perhaps go on to college.
If attending a regular college is out of the question, look into the many training programmes for autistic and special need individuals. Programmes often match skills and jobs to find the best fit for each individual. The National Autistic Society offers variety of resources to help autistic job seekers succeed in the workplace.
- Consider Support Options: The truth is you can’t guarantee you’ll be here for your child tomorrow. It’s a sobering thought, but what would happen to your child if something happened to you today? Gather a list of support options and make arrangements now. Support sources may include:
- Friends and family
- Support groups, social clubs and volunteer organisations
- Local or regional funded support
- Government support
Available types of support include support in your home (domiciliary care), residential care, supported living arrangements, day centres, respite care and adult placement arrangements.
These types of arrangements take time to plan so don’t delay. You could lose the ability to care for your child due to your own illness or disability.
- Bring Together a Team of Advocates: Your child will require a team of advocates to take your place if something happens to you. Self-advocacy, where the autistic individual speaks up for themselves, is the best choice when possible.
When those on the spectrum become adults, they have the freedom to make their own decisions if they are capable. If not, you have other advocacy options. Citizen advocacy groups have formed in many areas to support those on the spectrum. Also look for legal, professional and peer advocacy groups that offer services. It’s likely you’ll need a team that includes legal, professional and service advocates to assist your child. Also consider one or two family members who are willing to become advocates.
- Check Benefit Entitlements Now: Check the entitlements your child receives as well as those the child may be missing out on. Read the details as well. Benefits may change if living arrangements change.
- Involve Siblings: You may hesitate to place the burden of caring for an autistic or special needs child on siblings, but you might be surprised at how involved they’re willing to be. Of course, if they’re underage they cannot yet be guardians; however, they should still be involved in the details. Siblings should attend planning meetings, become familiar with their sibling’s living arrangements if in a different home and attend social events and support centres in which their sibling is involved. Siblings are often strong advocates for their special needs family member when given the chance.