You know preparation for adult roles begins early. For this reason AFB FamilyConnect provides a “Transition to Independence” section within each age-specific category: Babies and Toddlers, Preschoolers, Grade Schoolers, and Teenagers. These (linked) sections provide you, parents of a child with a visual impairment, with an assortment of concepts and skills to impart to your child; concepts and skills that set the course for your child’s self-sufficiency and preparedness for employment.
In addition to the role of intentionally teaching concepts and skills to your child, you have the following broad and extremely significant roles in setting the stage for your child’s successful employment:
- Your role is to love your child for who he is, no matter his range of attributes, abilities, or disabilities. You give your child the understanding and foundation that he is valuable and lovable. This will be the backbone of his self-confidence (that will not only increase his quality of life, but also his employability).
- You have knowledge of your child like no other supporter in his life. Your role is to continue to understand your child’s preferences, interests, skills, and limitations. You will help your child identify these attributes. He will benefit from the self- awareness as he makes career-related decisions.
- You provide continuity and consistency as you support your child’s development and education throughout his childhood. You know what motivates him and how he best learns, and can therefore educate his educators on “what works and does not work” during IFSP or IEP meetings, and in any personal futures planning meetings for your teenager with multiple disabilities.
- You are your child’s advocate, ensuring he is as prepared as possible for future employment. You speak up for the needs of your child, including accessibility requirements, proper evaluations, and appropriate education (general and blindness-specific).
- Most of the skills and experiences your child will need to live independently can be rehearsed and mastered while he is still living at home, and only you can insist your child takes responsibility for them. For example: A math teacher will provide lessons on counting money and a Teacher for Students with Visual Impairments will provide lessons on money identification and an Orientation and Mobility Specialist may travel with your child to a bank, but only you can expect your child to integrate money management into his everyday life. Your high expectations will translate into your child’s employment readiness and comfortable transition to independence.
It’s easy to see that your role is extremely significant. When it comes to your child, you love; you learn; you teach; you support; you coach; you advocate; and you provide an environment for your child to mature into his adult role.
On behalf of your child, thank you. There is no substitute for you.
*The information in this blog post is based on “Beyond High School: Preparing Adolescents for Tomorrow’s Challenges; ch. 5 Working with Parents: Using Strategies to Promote Planning and Preparation, Placement, and Support” which states that (and I quote), “For students with disabilities, in particular, family support and involvement contributes to successful transition and positively impacts post school outcomes.”