This is a question my daughter and I have heard multiple times each day since a month before she graduated. Especially since she loves to tell everyone all about how she was a senior and then she graduated from high school a few weeks ago.
So what is next? The answer is I truly don’t know. You see my child has special needs that began from an illness when she was just 6 weeks old. Her developmental age is much younger than her 19 years.
When your child is first born or becomes disabled there are many services that are available to help your child. PT, OT, speech, early intervention. My child started seeing someone from the school district at approximately 3 months old. And this is how it should be. We have all heard that early intervention is key. And I’m sure it’s true.
When your child enters kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school, the special education teachers help to make the transition as smooth as possible. For us her entire school career was pretty positive. I mean sure, IEP meetings are tough, that is a whole ball of wax too complicated to go into here, but overall everyone worked together, and everyone seemed to want her to succeed. Having a guide as we made these transitions was priceless, and I will be forever grateful to those people who helped us make these big changes go as smoothly as possible.
Before and during her senior year there was much talk about what comes next. She did evaluations and several trial runs at some businesses in town. She took part in a great program that taught her interview skills, work appropriate behavior and other great things that typical young adults just seem to know. She graduated from this program the same week she graduated from high school.
She went through the ceremony. We had a party. Through it all, people kept asking the same question. “What’s next?”
Two weeks after graduation and I still don’t have a great answer. She can’t go to a university, college, or even trade school because she can’t read beyond a few words. She can’t go out and get a job because again, she can’t read well enough.
So what’s next? It’s summer, so for now it’s ok. She can enjoy the summer with friends and family, trips to the pool, and alll the fun activities that come with warm weather. She can’t sit at home forever though. I can’t work because she can’t be left alone for more than a short period of time. So what’s next?
We work with a service in our community called Vocational Rehabilitation. They are supposed to help us figure out what comes next. The issue here is due to staffing issues, we are on our third worker. We are going out this week to meet our new worker. Sometimes the outgoing worker takes good notes, sometimes not so much. And each one seems to have a different opinion on what our next steps should be. My daughter had to go through the evaluation process twice because the first worker left, and the second worker wanted to see my daughter’s abilities for herself. Great. As soon as this second evaluation was done, we were told that our worker will be changing again.
Will we need to do a third evaluation? Will we stuck in an endless loop forever? I suppose only time will tell. Maybe at some point in the near future we will be able to figure out the answer to the all important question, what’s next?