Does your son or daughter want a summer job?
Have you figured out summer yet? When my daughter Talia (with autism) was younger, summer planning was a breeze. Really, we had a smorgasbord of inclusive and special needs day and sleepover camps to choose from. But now that Talia is 19, it’s tough to plan for a 10 week summer break from school.
Like most teens, my daughter wants a summer job. At high school, she’s had work placements with the help of a job coach. And she’s loved them. Favourite jobs have included setting tables at a restaurant, walking dogs at a university research facility and running Bingo games at a senior’s residence. Unfortunately, these job placements don’t continue through the summer.
Some communities offer innovative summer job programs for teens/young adults with special needs. Check out this video about Summer Transitions, offered by Community Living Sarnia. This program pairs young people with and without special needs in paid summer jobs. (Bet you can’t watch the video without crying–the participants look SO happy.) If only these kinds of job programs were more widely available. That’s the issue. So much depends on where you live.
Honestly, thinking about summer brings me to a vulnerable place. As a young adult, my daughter has aged out of many programs that she enjoyed. She no longer qualifies for support from agencies serving children. So, I’m starting to feel like we’ve been cut adrift.
I know we’re not alone. Many “special needs parents” describe their child’s transition to adulthood as “dropping off a cliff.” My daughter still has two years of school remaining. But the summer gives a taste of life without the structure and social life of school. Together, with our daughter, we have to plan ahead.
And hence this blog. Kids with autism and other special needs grow up. They have hopes and dreams for the future. And so, of course, do we. In this blog, I’ll explore issues and joys we face while our kids transition to adulthood. And I’ll fearlessly scour the planet (or at least the internet) to connect with individuals, families and innovative supports for young adults. I’ll share ways that young adults with special needs are working, playing, learning and thriving in their communities.
Sure, the economy is tight. No worries. That only means that we and our adult children need to get creative. And we need to band together to share ideas, strategies and successes. So, let’s get this conversation started!
Your turn. What’s your son or daughter up to this summer?