Apr 23, 2012 0 Share

Charting the Course


Compass with word "Success".
iStockphoto

This is not the first time I've asked this question, nor am I the only person who has asked, but maybe, dear reader, you are the one that has the answer: Does it really have to be this difficult? Are Transition and adult services too much to ask for? Why do I feel like I'm on a Lewis and Clark expedition when it comes to charting my son's options after high school? I realize there have been millions of parents before me who have made this journey, but I feel as though I'm navigating by the stars when everyone else has voice-guided GPS. 

The irony is, I'm not sure when I would've realized how blindingly confusing this all is, had I not become a part of Autism After 16. The more research I do, the more confused I become. When I do happen upon a service provider that looks promising, or a government agency website that provides meaningful information, I feel as if I've found an Easter egg made of solid gold. But when I do find such an Easter egg, I'm almost reluctant to to discuss it with anyone, for fear I'll hear, "Well, duh! Who didn't know about that?" I'm quickly getting over the fear of stating the obvious, as I realize there is very little that is obvious. 

The reason I'm extra frustrated about the maze of adult services is because we are considering relocating. While relocating is a big decision for any family, for a family with a special needs child in the mix, it makes the decision tree that much more complicated. And when you consider that my son is 17, it adds yet another prickly branch to that tree. What if we move to a jurisdiction that determines that Cameron has actually met the requirements for a high school diploma, and will graduate him next June? That's not what I had envisioned. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to milk the system by extending Cameron's high school education in order to extend services being paid for by our local (wherever that may be) school system. You only need to meet Cameron once to know he will definitely not be ready to earn a regular diploma in 14 months. But I worry about moving, and the new jurisdiction having a completely different assessment of Cameron. It's a lot to consider. And yet, you really can't get answers about a potential relocation, because you pretty much have to be resident of the jurisdiction in question to get answers. It's a real chicken and egg scenario. 

So why does every state, every county, every school system, every parent, have to reinvent the wheel? The agency function may be the same, but the acronyms never are. (Peruse our state Roadmaps to discover how many acronyms there are just for Vocational Rehabilitation services.) It just really makes me wonder why, when all these agencies are set up with the intent to help, it's so difficult to figure out how to even begin to receive their assistance. And so dear reader, I implore you: As we make this journey together, share what you learn along the way with us. Use the comment section below or our Facebook page to tell us about guideposts you’ve discovered to help you navigate. Sooner or later, hopefully, we’ll make this road easier to travel.