Welcome. This is Jim Moore, Executive Director of Disability Network Northern Michigan. We are having a podcast today on the topic of youth transitioning into adulthood and what to be thinking about during that transition period.
Joining me today is Nicole Miller. Nicole is an Independent Living Specialist with Disability Network who works a lot with families who have questions about this very topic so hopefully we can answer a lot of those today and give you information at the end with how you can contact us for more. Welcome Nicole! So, what are important things that parents need to know when supporting their child's journey to adulthood?
The transition to adulthood can feel overwhelming. Understanding what programs and services are available through various agencies is important. Many programs are offered through school, but it is good to know what programs may be added when the school supports drop off. Disability Network can be a good first stop if you are not sure what the options exist.
It's important to keep planning. If a youth with a disability is struggling to take initiative in planning for their future, they might not have all the supports needed to be able to organize their resources and plan out their future. Parents, families, and caregivers can play a vital role in supporting the vision of the youth and help with steps to achieve their dreams.
Understanding the IEP process and how parents and youth are partners in this process. Understanding Social Security benefits is also helpful for some as those benefits do change as youth enter adulthood. Disability Network is a resource to help understand and plan for benefits.
And then, what are the important things for youth with disabilities to know?
The important things to know start with questions like who is in my circle of support, who can I talk with about the vision I have for my future and how do I set up action steps to get to that vision. Learning how to take care of your self is an important step in the adult transition process.
It is natural for parents and caregivers to want to protect their loved one from harm and youth with disabilities might be more vulnerable. If we become overly protective, youth can become afraid to try new things or take risks and don’t grow and learn as a result. Youth with disabilities have greater success transitioning to adulthood when parents or guardian have a positive attitude about independent living and support independent living skill building. This can easily be done at home in having the youth help to prepare meals, doing the laundry, going shopping, budgeting. Have high expectations – sometimes people with disabilities are not given high expectations and underperform or developed a learned helplessness. Have a positive attitude about expectations help youth develop positive self-regard and allow youth to live to their fullest potential. Try not to be over-protective. Yes, be protective, but allow youth to make decisions and do things on their own.
Self-advocacy is a good skill for any young person to learn, why is it especially important for youth with disabilities?
Self-advocacy starts with understanding one's own disability and what strengths one has. Identifying accommodations based on needs and being able to have self-sufficiency lead to greater independence and autonomy.
What expectations and positive perceptions are most helpful for youth with disabilities to have?
Everyone needs to be empowered to make their own choices and practice communicating needs and wishes. I think of the phrase the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Starting small can lead to big things. It's an ongoing process, skill building and future planning, but it can lead to a lifetime of confidence.
What is self-determination and supportive decision-making and why are they important?
Self-determination is being able to have control over your own life. It means being able to have an opinion and a voice about what your best quality life looks like. Within the idea of supported decision making, the individual is considered the best expert on what defines their best or highest quality life, and they are given the greatest level of credibility to maintain an active role in setting up the action steps towards having that life. In supported decision making one knows who their circle of support is and can actively use those individuals to help them advocate and access that best quality life, of their own design.
How important are self-care and independent living skills? What about social and emotional skills?
Independent living skills and self-care skills offer someone a chance to have confidence in their own ability to provide a safe, stable, and healthy environment for oneself. Being able to care for yourself reduces the barrier between an individual and their community. Everyone needs the chance to have relationships with others. By reducing barriers of access into the community and having social/emotional skills one can build their capacity to understand, experience and develop meaningful relationships with others.
What about participation in community?
Participation in the community is critical for reducing isolation. One might call isolation the invisible enemy. Research shows that many individuals with disabilities feel isolated, leading to mental health challenges and physical health complications.
How can Disability Network play a role to support parents and youth in their journey to adulthood?
Join us and be a part of something bigger. Engaging with our dynamic community is the best way to help support a loved one with a disability. Our programs like our peer groups – men’s, women’s gaming help build connections and offer support. Please connect with us to learn more about our resources, staff or programs through our website disabilitynetwork.org or by phone 231 922 0903.
Nicole Miller is a Community Resource Specialist for Disability Network of Northern Michigan in Traverse City. Nicole is dedicated to family supports and assisting individuals, families, caregivers and providers to create opportunities allowing individuals to live their best life. Visit Disability Network’s Family Supports’ website for additional resources and details on how to participate in Parent Network program offerings.
email@example.com | 231 922 0903
Disability Network Northern Michigan is the first stop for people with disabilities and their families in northern Michigan. Our mission is to promote personal empowerment and positive social change for people with disabilities. We educate and connect people with disabilities to resources while advocating for social change in an accessible and welcoming community. Disability Network is providing services to customers and community members via phone, email and online. We welcome you to virtually join us for peer support and connection with our weekly Zoom online events. Please see our website event page for Zoom online event details!
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