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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