Josh’s mom Linda Stern is all too familiar with what many parents refer to as “the day the bus doesn’t come.”
“They put so much effort and wonderful work into the school experience and for most people all that work all that effort all that wonderful enriching experience just disappears,” Stern said. “They don’t even understand it, it’s like how come I’m not going to school and I’m sitting at home with mom watching TV all day long.”
The transitional period out of the school system in Illinois starts at age 14 ½. During that time, families work with the school to create post graduation goals based on the child’s interests and skills.
Though federal law requires that every child receive a transition plan, parents like Bill Casey feel the system can leave parents frustrated and confused.
“Parents don’t understand what’s offered to them by the community service organizations,” Casey said. “You really have to start digging to figure what’s available. You really need friends like Julie and Michael Tracy [of Growing Solutions Farm].to help guide you in some ways to find the right avenues.”
More than half of people with autism struggle to find work and often don’t seek higher education opportunities.
For those who do, they can turn to Jennifer Gorski. Gorski runs the Autism Clinic and TAP Training Center at University of Illinois, Chicago.
“We are hearing about these needs from people in our community quite a bit,” Gorski said. “We formed the ASPiE group which is a support group geared toward supporting college students that are on the spectrum.”
ASPiE (Adults Spectrum People in Education) meet once a week to have frank conversations that every college kid has such as, what’s in store after college, questions about careers and managing course load.