Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spotlight on Local Resources: Transitioning Into Adulthood

By Kara Jackman

It is that time of year. Graduation. Commencement, or the end of education provided by the state are all right around the corner. Parents hope that with each year their children grow and become more independent. Independence is encouraged, so long as there is a structure to each day, a beginning, a middle, and an end. So what do your budding adults do next?

Volunteerism and Internships
If you are thinking about taking a gap year, consider volunteering or an internship. Think about the activities and things that interest you and find a volunteer opportunities near you. If you like animals, the ASPCA has chapters all over the country.  If you like people, find a museum, church, or service organization that helps people. A great place to search for paid and unpaid internships is Indeed.com. Local council on aging, hospitals, and homeless shelters are always in need of an extra pair of hands. As a volunteer or intern, you will gain on-the-job skills, increase self-awareness, and interpersonal skills.

Day Programs
For adults in need of additional care, a day program could assist in helping you and your family improve the structure within your homes. One place to start would be looking for an adult day program in your area. Head over to Google and use the search terms "local resources for adults developmentally delayed." Or try placing your state or region name in the search box and include the terms "adult day programming" to see what comes up.

Let's take Texas as an example. What came up as a result of the above search? A helpful list of Home and Community-Based services in Texas. In addition, there are Texas Health and Human Services's Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authorities Directory. Each state should have some resources like these. The Arc is a national nonprofit that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disability live active and engaged lives. They have chapters in each state. Please look up resources near you, if you need them.

Adult Day Care vs. Adult Day Programs
Now, to be clear, I am not talking about "Adult day care facilities," but I am talking about a place where an adult with mildly compromised cognitive and intellectual abilities could go to grow their vocational, leadership, and interpersonal skills. For example, Texas has a list of a variety of different places that fall under the category of adult day care or adult day facilities. Many of them are for people that need round-the-clock medical and physical care. Others may be more geared to higher -functioning adults. There is only one way to find out what each facility has to offer, call or email to ask questions.

Adult Programming - What To Ask? 
Be sure to review what each location has to offer, where they are located in relation to your work or home, and the kinds of needs that your newly-minted adult requires. You must keep all these elements in mind when searching for the right placement. Ask lots of questions about the locations: cleanliness, services, and how they interact with the communities they serve. If you know another family in the day program's community, ask them what they think of their experience. Ultimately, finding the right place is like developing a friendship or relationship, you will know the right fit when it comes along. 

Humans, Creatures of Habit and Routine
While money and job training are nice, the goal is to achieve a daily routine as your young adult transitions our of school and into the real world. Think about the flow of your day. In the morning, you wake, shower and have breakfast. Then you go to work. At lunchtime, you stop, eat something, or maybe work out. You return to work and finally return home for dinner and time with the family. This is how we go through our days. Adults with disabilities need this structure, too. Without it the abilities and knowledge they do have will wither. Socializing will become more difficult and overuse of TV, social media, and other technology could turn into an unhealthy outlet.

Humans are creatures of habit and routine. Finding a place where the adult in your home can go to work, volunteer, intern, or be part of a community in a day program could open them up to improved socializing, sky rocketed self-esteem from a hard day's work, and a bunch of new experiences they can share each night at the dinner table.

Other Resources 

The Arc 

U.S. Health and Human Services Website

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