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  Welcome to the "Age of Transition". The next 4-8 years will be both challenging and exhilarating !  This packet is designed to be a helpful tool as your navigate the road to transitioning your child to adult life and appropriate services. Each of us have different journeys but all of us desire the same thing, an enjoyable and meaningful life for our child. 

By age 14 you need to begin to plan for your child's future. By now you have a pretty good idea of what lies ahead for your child, college, vocational training or continued learning and supports  to be as independent as possible ! 

As a member of our Center you can connect with others who at the same point in their journey through participating in the Parents of Teens group, which will include transition themed workshops as well as support, and as a bonus,  your child may participate in the Teen Socialization group which runs while the support group runs.  

They can also participate in the Teen Activities which offer them the opportunity to connect with other teens and enjoy recreational activities in the community.  Family Fun and Fitness is another option that serves to get our teens and young adults up and moving as they can adopt a very sedentary lifestyle with computer gaming replacing physical activity.  Participation in all these activities ups the possibility of developing friendships and and social skills which can only serve to improve their chances of a good life. 

     Below you will find the resources that will be helpful as you navigate the next few years. We have set it up in a timeline according to age as much as possible, so we suggest that you save this e-mail for future reference. 

If you haven't yet, you should  fill out a DDS Application.  Recent changes at DDS expanded the eligibility for adults with ASD. If your child has qualified as a child they will need to requalify as an adult at age 18. 

   

      As you move forward parenting your child on the spectrum we will be here to help, call us if you have questions, need assistance, referrals or information.

 

                         Autism Resource Center Staff  


   


Transition Resources for Parents









 
DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES APPLICATION


RESOURCES FOR PUBLIC SUPPORTS

In addition to the Department of Developmental Services there are many possibilities for supports available through the State. If you have NOT applied earlier for MassHealth you will want to think about this as your child approaches age 18, when your income is no longer a factor in their eligibility. 
They will need to reapply at age 18 if they ARE covered by MassHealth as a child. 
ABA services cease being covered at age 21 through MassHealth.
MassHealth, however,  does cover day supports and services for people who qualify.

Because many families find accessing these supports to be confusing the Center offers a bi-annual  workshop Accessing Pub lic Supports. You may register for this workshop on our website.




STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 14 

Your child will join you at IEP team meetings, it is his or her future. Help them understand the IEP process and to prepare for their participation Here are some resources that may help prepare your child to actively participate in their IEP.
  

 A   Transition Planning Form  becomes part of the IEP now. 

You will begin to craft a vision for the future, and want to invite others who are part of your child's life to help you and him create that vision. Your vision may change over the next few years but the IEP should be guided by your vision for the future.  You've four to eight more years to prepare your child for the maximum independence he is capable of achieving. Academics need to share the time left in school with teaching Activities of Daily Living, Self Advocacy and Vocational Exploration  in order for them to succeed as an adult. This is a good time to assess your child's needs for learning skills that will enable them to achieve maximum independence. A good tool to use to assess their level of autonomy can be found at our website.  This will help you decide where your child's skills are lacking and need to be addressed in the IEP.  At 14 years old you also want to cultivate your child's independence and ability to self determine their life.path. Click here for  tools to help you prepare your child. The National Gateway to Self Determination website has a wealth of helpful information.

Your child's MCAS scores, if poor, may make them eligible for MCAS tutoring so that they will do better at the High School Level for testing. 
Each student's IEP or 504 team must determine during its annual meeting how the student will participate in MCAS (and in PARCC, if adopted) for each subject scheduled for assessment. This information, including any accommodations that a student will use, must be documented in the student's approved IEP or 504 plan. 


You may be worried about where your child will live as an adult. A small number of individuals served by DDS will qualify for residential services so having a plan B in place is a good idea. Here is a webinar by Autism Housing Pathways  which you can review,  and we'd encourage you to attend a "Thinking about Housing " workshop which is provided each year at the Center. Don't panic, housing is a multi-year project but you are better off if you start early. 

The transition plan in the IEP is an evolving document. It should be updated yearly, inviting agencies or people working with your child to the IEP. 
You may want to schedule a separate meeting with the IEP TEAM  and other interested parties to craft the transition plan prior to the IEP meeting.

 Person Centered Planning may be something you will want to explore and utilize.There are services to help facilitate this process. At this age you may want to learn more about this process and where you can access a Person Centered Plan Facilitator.

Now would be a good time to create a  Letter of Intent.
 While not a legal document doing this insures that those who care about and for your family member have all the information they need to step in and help should you become unable to be the primary caretaker and it can also serve to assist others in helping to creating a vision .

BREATHE

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 15

This is a fairly easy year as far as transition is concerned. You will update the vision and transition plan. You may want attend some workshops about transition. These are offered by many agencies, including us. Attending our parent's of teens support group will be helpful.
The ARC of Massachusetts has a yearly conference on transition each fall and the Federation for Children with Special Needs also offers workshops on transition. PPAL offers workshops as well as NAMI if your child has a comorbid mental health conditions. Check the  Community Bulletin Board   on our website for information about workshops and conferences. 

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 16

Y ou will update and refine your vision and transition plan at your yearly IEP. 

Your child may be eligible to work at this age. If not independently, then work based learning should become part of their IEP at this age both in the classroom and outside the classroom with supports.   Vocational Assessments should be done to determine your child's strength and interests. 

 
DRIVING
For some there w ill be the desire to get a driver's license. This is a big decision and some individual s will be successful while others will not succeed.  Be sure you understand the ramifications and asso ciated risk. Click here to read  "Rules of the Road: Driving & ASD."   



Your child may qualify for Adult Family Care.(AFC)  This program supports people living at home and is  for individuals who require daily assistance with their activities of daily living such as bathing, eating or dressing. The majority of people participating in this program are living with a parent or other family member.
AFC provides nursing and case management supports, on-going training and professional support for caregivers, as well as financial compensation to caregivers.
To qualify for AFC, individuals must be at least 16 years of age, qualify for Mass Health, require assistance with one or more activities of daily living, and be willing to participate in the program.
Caregivers may be parents, siblings, extended family or non-family members. Caregivers cannot be a spouse or legal guardian. Caregivers must reside in the same home as the person they are caring for. Oversight is provided by an AFC Provider. HMEA is an AFC provider and we hold a workshop every year for parents to learn more about this option. 

 For a list of all AFC providers click  here

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT  17

As with other years you will update the vision and transition plan at your yearly IEP. 

HOWEVER this year you will want to be sure that the school district generates a 688 referral to DDS,MRC or DMH if needed.

 In Massachusetts, students with severe disabilities access adult service agencies through the Chapter 688 referral process. Chapter 688 provides a two year coordinated planning process for students whose entitlements to special education services will end when they graduate from school or turn 22 years of age.  Guide to 688

A lot of what you have to do this yea r is in preparation for your child turning 18.
 You CAN do this! 

Some of you will be looking at colleges, applying for  FAFSA,  and worrying about how your child will fare. Some will opt for attendance at a community college, and live at home, for some a
reduced course load is an option. Some great information and tutorials can be found  here  Talking with veteran parents about their experiences can be helpful. 

There are colleges which are designed to help students with ASD not only pursue academics but to refine and develop skills needed to be independent .

 In one year your child will reach the age of majority. You will need to decide if they are capable or need  a guardian, a conservator or if having them give you or another person  power of attorney is the best option for them as they become adults.   You will want to consider having only one parent as guardian if Adult Family Care is an option that would work well for your family.  Health proxy is another option to utilize .
There are workshops offered 
that explain the options in detail provided by attorneys who specialize in these issues. You may want to attend a workshop as you make this decision.
This online tutorial will help you make decisions and understand the options

You can also discuss with your DDS Children's Coordinator who can assist you and supply you with local resources you would need to apply for Guardianship. A clinical team must make a determination of your child's capacity, this will include your personal care physician or a physician familiar with your child, an LICSW and a psychologist. It is good to make appointments within the six months prior to turning 18. For more information about Guardianship and the forms you will need click  here  . If your child takes antipsychotic meds you will need a Rogers Guardianship.

You may wish to use an attorney who specializes if you file for guardianship. You can call the Center for referrals . 

Depending on your child's abilities and challenges,  you may also want to apply to DDS for eligibility as an adult.  Learn more  about the expanded eligibility for people with ASD if your child has no cognitive issues.  Your Children's coordinator can assist you. 

You'll want to get ready to apply for SSI ( Social Security Income ) for your child if you do not already have it and MassHealth. If your child already is receiving SSI, at age 18 your child will
need to reapply as an adult.  Exceptional Lives has another step by step tutorial for this process 
Make sure your child has less than $2,000.00 in assets of their own. If your child does not have SSI or MassHealth you should know that MassHealth comes with SSI at age 18 . IF you do not receive a MassHealth card call MassHealth and ask WHEN you will receive the card, DO NOT APPLY SEPARATELY  FOR MASSHEALTH,  if someone at MassHealth tells you to, ask to speak to a supervisor. Doing a second application will delay your MassHealth coverage until your child turns 18.

You will want to pull together the documents needed to apply . There are three offices in Central Massachusetts where you can apply. To locate the office closest to you click 
here. Check   Social Security's website  to determine what documentation you need to gather. Make an appointment to apply as your child approaches age 18 around 17 years 10 months of age.  

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 18

The Department of Developmental Services Adult eligibility process should be complete and your child's eligibility status determined. 

SSI Application should be submitted and determination done.

If your child is male he MUST register with the   
Selective Service  System  .
 
 Failure to do so may prevent access to some services. 

Apply for Section 8 Housing

. The list is LONG and there may be several years pass before your child's name comes up on the list . Again we would encourage you to attend an Autism Housing Pathways workshop to learn all you need to know. You can learn more  here . There are regional lists , in Worcester County you would apply through  RCAP, there is also a  centralized list  your child's name will automatically be placed on that list, you will want to check where your child is on the list every year as the list is purged every couple of years.. There are also local housing authorities that are not part of the centralized list that you can apply to, check in your community.   

*
RESOURCES FOR COLLEGE 


Consider Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment. 
This state program  enables young adults ages 18-22 with severe disabilities to attend college courses and participate in campus life so they can develop independent living and employment skills. For colleges offering  ICE programs click hereWachusett Community College  is a local college which plans to offers ICE starting in August 2016.. 
  
Many community colleges offer services and programs to disabled students. Locally Quinsigamond Community College offers a post secondary course to prepare students for employment, called  Operation Talent  .  

Once your child reaches college the protections of an IEP are no longer in place and while students may receive some accommodations through disability services,THEY will have to advocate for services, generally colleges will not share information with parents, nor negotiate with parents. For more information, click here .

* Transfer of parental rights will occur at age 18 unless you have completed a formal guardianship process. 

Your child will be assigned to a transition Service Coordinator at DDS at age 18. You will want to discuss any questions you have regarding the prioritization process for adult services and future services your child may need. They can assist you with exploring adult programs and service options as your child  approaches age 22. 

Those not eligible for DDS may be referred to Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission for for an initial job assessment and  job development . MRC provides transition services to individuals with disabilities to enable them to live and work independently in their community.

Some individuals graduate from school at age 18 and enter adult life with the natural supports of family and supports and services that they qualify for such as MRC and SSI. Some will qualify as adults under the expanded eligibility for individuals with ASD and will work with their DDS Autism Service Coordinator to determine what services and supports they will need. Others will continue in public education until age 22. The following applies to those individuals . 

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 19 
 This is an easy year after the last 2 years. You will want to refine your vision and update and strengthen the IEP Transition plan and the IEP based on goals achieved and goals not achieved. Invite your DDS Transition Coordinator to your IEP meeting.

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 20  
You will want to refine your vision and update and strengthen the IEP Transition plan and the IEP based on goals achieved and goals not achieved. Invite your DDS Transition Coordinator to your IEP meeting. Begin to learn about DDS service options at age 22. 

STEPS TO TAKE AND CHANGES AT AGE 21

For the last time you will  refine your vision and update and strengthen the IEP Transition plan and the IEP based on goals achieved and goals not achieved.  Invite your DDS Transition Coordinator to your IEP meeting if a DDS Individual Transition plan has not been done. This can be further revised if needed.  

You will receive a letter of prioritization from your DDS Area Director which will identify the priority of your son or daughter's needs and the commitment of DDS to provide services as an adult. Your child may qualify for a DDS waiver This may include day habilitation and employment programs, and for those classified as priority 1 residential placement. There are three waivers which serve adults with intellectual disabilities : Adult Supports Waiver, Community Living Waiver and Intensive Supports Waiver Program.

 The Adult Supports and Community Living Waiver programs have similar services which differ by the intensity of need of the individual and individual's location. Individuals in the Adult Supports Waiver can live in their own home or apartment or family home due to the combination of a strong natural/informal generic and Medicaid services. The Community Living Waiver is for individuals who can live in their family home, in the home of someone else, or their own home and do not need supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week due to the combination of natural, generic and Medicaid services

If you opt to utilize the traditional model of supports your transition Coordinator will assist you in researching appropriate vocational and or day habilitation programs. You will want to visit possible programs to help you make a decision for which program will best suit your son or daughter. 

If you plan to self direct services  you will want to decide if you want to utilize agency with choice or Participant Directed Services. Your Transition coordinator again will assist you in exploring options for the future. 

Some families will also be offered residential placement either in a group home, or shared living. 

Some individuals will defer leaving public education until age 22 and will   qualify as adults under the expanded eligibility for individuals with ASD and will work with their DDS Autism Service Coordinator to determine what services and supports they will need.

CHANGES AT AGE 22

At Age 22 your son or daughter if eligible will begin services as an adult and a DDS Adult Services Coordinator will be assigned. Generally after 60 days an Individual Service Plan will be drafted and an ISP meeting will be held with your young adult, family and providers attending to define the  goals for your son or daughter. 

The Autism Resource Center will continue to be a source of information, support and connection as you begin this new phase of life. We are continuing to evolve and develop programs and supports for our families as we all grow and learn together.


The Autism Resource Center does not endorse any treatments, programs or products. Articles, announcements and resources are provided for information purposes only. 

A Message from Our Director 

 

Once again you may  feel frightened and overwhelmed by all that is before you  but you've developed good advocacy skills over the years , hold a Ph.D. from the University of Google and at the Center you always have  knowledgeable and understanding professionals and veteran parents who will support you and provide you with the tools you need to become confident and capable of dealing with the challenges that autism brings into your life. 

 

We will be creating new programs to meet the needs of families who continue to be a major source of support for their loved one on the spectrum. Please feel free to call me to suggest , request or help develop the services you feel are needed, we are so much stronger when we stand and work together. 



Sincerely,

                                                                     
 

Susan J Loring

Director

Autism Resource Central

508-835-4278 


 

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