For young adults, taking advantage of the summer months is often essential to gaining valuable experience, learning new skills, and preparing for the next chapter of life. Some volunteer with a local nonprofit to give back, while others intern or find a summer job to explore a field they’re interested in. Oftentimes however, the process of pinpointing the right opportunity can be daunting. But don’t fret – Milestones can get you the individualized recommendations you need to make the right choice.
Volunteer Opportunities: Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the community and to build transferable work skills. Two great resources we recommend using in the meantime are Volunteer Match and Greater Cleveland Volunteers. These sites can help you find available options in your area and send you notifications when new projects begin. Call the Milestones Helpdesk if you need additional help finding autism-friendly opportunities.
Internships can serve as great resume builder and allow students to explore their career interests over the course of a semester or summer break. Interested in STEM? Check out NASA Internships at Glenn Research Center. Cleveland Clinic also has great internships for every season. If you or your child is having trouble finding something suited to their interests and abilities, give our Helpdesk a call. The Milestones team can prepare appropriate options and even has an internship program of our own that connects individuals on the spectrum with individualized placements at the Milestones office and in the Cleveland community.
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About fifteen years ago, with a young son in the midst of therapies for then-called “high functioning autism,” a special-education friend of mine invited me to accompany her to a conference. There, I learned about Social Stories™ and various autism topics, and I found numerous resources that I never realized existed. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of information, I was euphoric and motivated…there were assists to augment my efforts, and there were supportive people who really understood my challenges—because they shared them! Milestones…how aptly named! I returned over and over.
In time, I advanced to the other side of the podium, having co-authored a book with my now-adult son, David. My conference participation has evolved from attendee, to speaker, to committee member, to co-chair. Through motherhood and my tutoring position at a college academic support center for students with learning differences, I have gleaned several perspectives that I seek to pass on. Here is a vital one:
There is one thing about CHANGE that never changes: the need for transition.
Preparing for EVERY novel experience has made all the difference in David’s quality of life and confidence. And beyond competence in cognitive matters and personal skills, the increasing interactions and complexities of the academic and professional worlds require additional planning and transitioning to result in optimal functioning.
When David transitioned from a special needs school to mainstreamed education in the eighth grade, I met with faculty to discuss his strengths, needs, and helpful accommodations. I also tutored Dave in several classes to help him learn in a way that he could comprehend. He weathered social and academic challenges, and consequently became more worldly, skilled, and independent.
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