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Transitioning Past a Post-Secondary Program

LB Convocation

Students with Autism, Asperger’s, or learning differences who move beyond a program like CIP have often accomplished a number of goals that have helped them move toward independent living. The transition to next steps can often seem very intimidating for many young adults, including those with learning differences. Fortunately, those who have come through CIP often acquire many skills including those related to time management, success in the workforce, communication, money management, and health and wellness skills. These increased skills are often the equalizer that is needed to go out and secure stable employment, housing, and establish a network of friends who they can rely on.

This can, of course, also be a very sensitive time when the student moves on after completing a program like CIP. In essence, they are going from a fully integrated and supportive program to a new living arrangement that might not have the same structures in place to help them balance their daily lives. This may be college, independent living, or living with their parents. Even though the new living arrangement may not have the same structure and support, the student can successfully transfer the skills they learned at CIP to their new living environment.

Transitional Challenges

Although this may seem overwhelming at first, there are a number of factors that made the student successful at CIP which can also be used to foster success in the new living environment. Of course, it takes time to set up a new routine and become comfortable with it. There may be a tendency for the individual to want to isolate and avoid new situations that seem very different. The student may also be hesitant to begin new activities, attend a different college, or make new friends. This was also likely the case when they started their programming at CIP. What changed, however, was a dedication to try new things that emerged from having supports in place to guide the student. This, in turn, established a structure that became such an invaluable piece of the student’s life.

Establish a Structure

Sample ScheduleOne of the first things to do is establish and maintain structure. This might begin by creating a calendar with the student that has a list of weekly tasks or appointments. This may include exercising, going to the library, or attending a community event. It may also include chores such as laundry, cooking, housework, and maintaining their hygiene. These are activities that the student has become used to and need to be implemented to help preserve the structure and balance that has been established in the their life. The schedule should also include social activities. This may include visiting with family or friends, or attending social events where new friends can be made. Calling friends and family from home may even be done as a part of the transition plan while the student is preparing to move on.

Structuring the students day in a consistent way is also very important. Waking up at the same time each day, eating breakfast, and showering at regular times are a few small things that can help maintain stability in a student’s life. This is something that has been practiced at CIP and needs to be continued once the student moves on after attending the program. Signs such as staying up too late, oversleeping, and skipping meals can be red flags that a student is reverting into older “unhealthy” behaviors. Click the image above to view a sample schedule.

Other Options

Hiring a Life Coach can also be a maneuver that can greatly help with transitioning a student. This individual can help your student in a number of ways including with employment, choices of schools, and other major life decisions that are goal related. The Life Coach can also act as a neutral third party helper who can help students and parents reach decision in a productive manner.

No matter what the circumstances, this process will be a challenging one. If, however, the parties involved can acknowledge all the hard work that has already been accomplished, then this is just another step in the process.

About the Author: Vincent Szymanski MEd, CAGS

Vincent Joined CIP in February 2016. He earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling in 2004 and his Certificate of Advanced Studies in 2006 both from American International College. Vincent has worked with a very diverse group of students over the years, particularly at the Pittsfield Adult Learning Center where he served as the counselor and director for a total of nine years. In addition, Vincent has experience in substance abuse education and counseling, peer mediation counseling, and in teaching special education mathematics.

This has been a special needs program update from Asperger’s & LD College Programs. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.