Michael's Story: Community Skill Building Creates Strategies For Transition
Michael can best be described as one of the happiest people you will meet. He is outgoing, friendly, always energetic, and eager to please. For many young adults, leaving high school is a big transition often confronted with choices about furthering their education, obtaining employment, or moving out on their own. For Michael and his family, the important piece of his transition was to have consistency, as consistency is important for people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
CLASS met Michael when he was still in high school and his mother was exploring possibilities for him to attend CLASS’s Centre Services after graduation. Centre Services is CLASS’s adult education program where individuals enroll in classes to learn and enhance their independent living and vocational skills. Individuals can choose from 60 different courses based on their own interests and goals. Michael’s parents were concerned about his transition to a new program. To ensure a smooth transition to CLASS, some strategies were put in place.
As part of the extended school year, Michael attended CLASS during the summer accompanied by his aide from high school, making the transition more successful for Michael. Michael’s mother came to the program to meet with staff who would work directly with him, review Michael’s interests and goals and develop strategies for supporting him. A photo book was created that included pictures of all of his instructors and supervisory staff to familiarize Michael with the people who he would soon be working with at CLASS. Michael’s family determined that following a family vacation, his
one-to-one support staff would be removed, allowing him to adjust to attending program on his own.
During the first few weeks, Michael’s mother came with him during the morning to help him transition to his new surroundings. Michael was met every morning by staff to help familiarize him with his schedule and was escorted to each of his classes.
Before long, Michael was interacting with staff and other individuals supported in the program. He was familiar with his environment and even began to get items for his lunch independently. This was a clear indication that Michael felt comfortable in his new environment.
Michael continues to successfully attend the Centre Services program. The effective transition is a result of communication between staff and Michael’s family, particularly his mother, and staff’s willingness to learn about the individual needs each person with a disability presents. Michael’s story is typical of many families who experience the transition from high school to adult services. Thanks to his supportive family, and the committed staff at CLASS, Michael’s transition was successful. Most importantly, Michael is to be commended for his willingness to accept change, his interest in meeting new people, and our favorite characteristic- Michael’s compassion for others, regardless of their differences.