Friday, 11 April 2014


With 2 children with high special needs fast approaching adulthood we have been busy working on accessing adult services.  Finding adult services is similar to youth services in the fact that they all seem to be "top secret".  It baffles me that information about the various supports available are not readily accessible, you would think that the services for people with special needs would be easy for these individuals to find.  I totally understand that each service provider is trying to protect their budgets but really it should be easier.

When we are planning out activities for our young adults we need to consider the fact that they need a (competent) adult with them at all times.  Although these 2 function much lower than their chronological age they see their peers going to college, getting jobs, and becoming more independent and have visions of themselves doing these things also.  With these 2 challenges we have our work cut out for us as we try to come up with a plan that meets their needs and dreams.

We have applied on their behalf for a disability pension that they meet the requirements for and we are working on "community living" supports however this is just a fraction of what we envision for our young adults.  We want them to have activities to do each day, we do not want them sitting watching television or playing video games all day long.  The other thing is, as wonderful as special needs programs are we want our children to also participate in some activities with the general population.

Our first step is finding "work" this could be paid employment or a volunteer job or a few volunteer jobs.  One issue when looking for employment paid or volunteer is that our young adults fatigue quickly and may not be able to work full time, also it can be very draining for the employer working with them so a short day once a week may be more successful.  We also want to find something of interest that each young adult can feel a sense of accomplishment from.  This is where the work for us begins because it's not like working with our typical children that can go out and make a life for themselves.

Our daughter envisions herself being a famous singer or actress and she would also consider being a first aid instructor.  These dreams are beyond her current reach so its time for some brain storming.  We are looking at her current hobbies, interests and activities seeing what can be expanded into an "adult plan" as high school will be coming to an end.  She currently volunteers at "therapy" for a couple hours per week where she cleans the equipment and does a bit of office work.  Working/volunteering at a place that provides therapies for people with special needs works well because they are already used to dealing with the challenges she presents.  Numerous members of our family volunteer at St John Ambulance and this is why she thinks being an instructor is a good idea.  She is unable to do the activities the other members are doing but after some brain storming we found that they need a person to restock the first aid kits on an ongoing basis.  With us going in and photographing everything and making up a visual for her this helps her to be successful with the task.

Our son enjoys/needs physical labor but requires a lot of guidance so finding opportunities for him takes looking in a different direction.  A neighboring community has a small museum that a group of senior males volunteer at doing repairs and maintenance.  After us approaching them they have agreed to have our son work with them one morning a week.  A friend has a landscaping business that requires laborers and as full time would not work she has agreed to having him on call.  We have worked with her discussing what his challenges are and what makes him successful.  She knows he needs support preparing for work and doesn't have the skills for planning ahead so we work with her.  When she wants him to work she schedules that with us, we work with him ensuring he packs and wears appropriate clothing for the job, has his safety gear, brings a lunch with water and arrives on time.

Finding work/volunteer activities for our soon to be adults is a challenge and time consuming but having done this with another adult child we know the many benefits to the child.  This will be a great confidence builder for them and as their skills increase they may be able to do more and hopefully eventually support themselves.  Having our young adults out in the world also opens more doors for them as others see them being successful. Another benefit is that them going to "work" provides the competent adults to look after them so we as parents are not needing to be there 24/7. I look forward to your comments please let me know what opportunities you have found for your children and how you make it successful for them.

Stay tuned for more posts on adult supports/life for our young adults.

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  1. It sounds like you are on the right track in securing supported postitions for your young adults. We will be facing this soon. Bethany is nearing 16 but functions as a 2 year old. She also fatigues easily so a fulL time position anywhere, even a day program is too much for her. Does your state have Consolidated Supports and Services plans? We can write a job coach into Bethany's plan when she gets older.

  2. PS - have tweeted your post, but could not find you on Twitter to tag you!

  3. That sounds like such a challenge. I'm sorry you have to figure it out all so soon. May you be blessed in your efforts.