Adjusting to life after high school can be hard enough for any teenager, but throw in a disability of any kind, and the level of difficulty can certainly increase. So much more is expected of teenagers after graduating from high school. Responsibilities increase, parents and guardians begin to expect teens to take care of themselves, and there’s also the expectation that they’ll have to start making big decisions for themselves. For some, it can feel like this relatively large shift happens in the blink of an eye.
For young adults with disabilities, transitioning from high school to the workforce can be a trying experience. In high school, students are given a great deal of supervision, direction and instruction. So how can those teens or young adults with disabilities integrate themselves into the workforce smoothly? What can you do as a caregiver to prepare them for the transition from being a teenager in high school to a young adult in the workforce?
- Embrace Your Child’s Adulthood
Disability or no disability, your child is becoming a young adult, and it’s important to allow them to thrive in this new phase of their life. Though they may require more care than your typical kid, they still deserve the level of independence that comes with adulthood. The more you can embrace this, the more they’ll be able to embrace it as well.
- Hold Your Child Accountable To Act Like An Adult
In conjunction with the first point, now is the time to transition them into being held responsible for their actions and their decisions. They want to embrace their independence? Let them do that, but that also means being held accountable for acting like an adult. It means taking on responsibilities they may not have had in high school.
If your child has questions about an assignment at school, have them email their own teachers. This easily translates into the workforce – when beginning to job seek, your child can reach out to employers to show interest or ask questions.
- Talk To Your Child About Their Learning Needs or Disabilities
Be very open with your child about their disability. Understand what challenges they have and why, and talk to them about their strengths. Spend a lot of time talking with them about their strengths, and help them figure out how to play toward them and accentuate them in their daily life. When you come to understand their skills, you can help them acquire certain skills employers look for.
- Figure Out Your Child’s Interests
Understanding their strengths and edges will help them move toward what really interests them. Are they creative? Do they enjoy art or music? What about mathematics or science? These are important questions to ask, and not overly different than what you would ask of any teen making his or her way out of high school. Knowing what interests your child will help them understand a direction to go for job opportunities.
- Look Into Job Training Programs Or Internships
After your child figures out a couple of different directions they can go in the workforce, have them look into job training programs or internships. They’ll get real-life work experience through volunteering, and that can greatly help them understand what will be asked of them at work and transition them into a paying job.
Not only are there resources available for your child, but there are resources available for you as well. There are many websites and organizations out there that can help you help them during this shift. Stay active in your child’s life during this transition period and allow them to be held accountable for their responsibilities, and their transition into adulthood will be a smooth one.