Kids Grow Up

Amy Baskin's blog on parenting young adults with special needs

Does your son or daughter want a summer job?

Photo Credit: puuikibeach via flickr

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?


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4 thoughts on “Does your son or daughter want a summer job?

  1. Vikki on said:

    I wonder this myself. We live in a very small rural community in Northern California. My daughter will be 17-1/2 by time summer vacation comes her way. My daughter has a spinal cord injury and has been left paralyzed from the waist down since July 4th, 2008. Her vocational interests are to become an RN and I do support her with her choice. I encourage her to at least apply for local employment, but I think, her and I, both think most jobs in our area for non experienced people, let alone a person in a wheelchair, will not be able to perform required tasks, such as, lifting, carrying boxes, standing, etc. I really think she needs the social and work experience for her resume, but where we live will not be easy.

    • amybaskin on said:

      Hi Vikki: That’s great that your daughter has a strong area of interest for her future career. I wonder if there is any related health related volunteer work for her in your community for the summer?

  2. Valerie McDonald on said:

    Hi Amy,
    My 23 year old daughter found volunteer work at a summer day camp and took part in a camp herself, run by Toronto Parks and Rec for young adults with disabilities (she has a mild intellectual delay). the camp serves people up to age 29. Then last summer we found Club Kodiak, a camp near Huntsville, On that serves special needs adults 18+. It was a huge success! The guests all make their own breakfasts, help make dinner a few times a week, choose classes like cooking, home repair and have lots of fun with outdoor activities. She is going back for three weeks this summer.

    • amybaskin on said:

      Hi Valerie:
      Sounds like your daughter has found a great mix of volunteering, learning new skills and participating in interesting summer activities in the summer. That’s great that your Rec and Parks also offers opportunities for young adults–both as volunteers and program participants. Kodiak also sounds interesting–especially since participants get to be involved in cooking, and skills needed to live independently.

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