One Family’s Experience
“The transition from Academy360 Upper School (“school” as my son Rob called it) to Independence360 (I360) was seamless. We were extremely anxious about Rob graduating and transitioning to the adult world. Rob is so routine oriented and he had become deeply attached to Academy360 Upper School’s staff, most specifically Megan and Kelly as well as his teacher and speech therapist and so many of the aides who treated him like family. We were worried about the loss of the supportive and nurturing environment he was so accustomed to at Academy360 Upper School.
But much to our surprise and delight, this transition went perfectly smoothly and seemed almost like a natural extension of Rob’s routine. There are probably a few reasons why Rob transitioned with such ease, not the least of which was Kelly Cue, and Megan McGuire’s commitment to making it so. They worked with Kim Rushmore, I360’s Program Director, to plan several mornings when Rob would spend time at I360 in the late Spring before “school” ended. Kim picked the mornings that would be easiest for Rob; mornings that the group he was visiting would be staying at the program site. The best part of all was that Kim allowed Megan and one of the aides from “school” to go with Rob during his I360 visits. This link from one program to the other made it seem very natural to Rob. By the time he started at I360 he felt very comfortable and familiar with the environment and some of the staff there.
The most gratifying part is that we see Rob thriving. Of course, he looks forward to going to I360 every day because he loves it! He loves all of the activities, especially grocery shopping and cooking the lunches and snacks. He loves being out in the community and the activities like hikes and trips in his group. Rob even loves his rides to and from I360 because this the first time that he has been transported with peers. He is in heaven in that Toyota Sienna with many of the young adults in his group. The adult world within I360 has been awesome for our Rob. But I have to credit all of the staff at Academy360 Upper School and Independence 360 for his smooth transition and his continued happiness there. The staff is so devoted to the students and clients. The clients’ days are planned with such care down to the finest details, and the staff is available to parents 24/7. That passion made the transition smooth and makes the program the very best! “~ written by Liz, Rob’s mother
Tips for Transitioning
Your son’s or daughter’s move from the routine and supports of a school environment to the adult world with its relative freedom and independence can be stressful for everyone in your family. Here are some tips, provided by Independence360’s Program Director, Kim Rushmore LCSW, to help make the transition a smooth one.
1. Plan early. Register for DDD and DVRS as early as possible. Take the NJ CAT early in the graduating year, answering questions as accurately as possible. If you are unsure how to fill it out appropriately, ask for help from professionals and other parents.
2. Start looking at placements the year prior to graduation to see what programs you like and what the waiting lists look like.
3. Look to have chosen a #1 program and two backups by no later than January of the graduating year. This way you can fill out paperwork, get on waiting lists, and have trial days to assure you are ready when you are assigned a Support Coordinator.
4. Plan transitional half days and full days at the program in the months prior to graduation. This gives the program a chance to get to know your adult, a chance for the program to collaborate with schools and outside therapists, and a better chance for your adult to feel comfortable with the upcoming changes.
5. Relax. Your adult will pick up on your anxiety too. Even if you do not do 1-4, it just means you may need to be patient as you work your way into the future.The school systems and adult systems are very different. You are moving from an entitlement to eligibility. The adult world system may move at a different pace and this is why planning early will save you the stress that comes with making the actual transition.
One final suggestion is to ask other parents of adults you know, what they did, what they would do differently, and what they have learned. Your best resources are other parents who have made the journey.
For More Information About Transition
Spectrum360 is committed to helping families make the transition from school to adult life as easy as possible. To that end, our first Spectrum of Options Seminar for the season is “What Individuals and Families Need to Know About Support Coordination.” Join us for this presentation from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 26th.
Spectrum of Options Seminars are free and open to Spectrum360 all families, as well as parents and professionals from the larger community.