Life After High School: Preparing Your Visually Impaired Child for What Comes Next
Young adults have many options when it comes to life after high school. Depending on their abilities and interests, some of the possibilities are:
- Moving directly into full-time or sheltered employment
- Setting up a household, marrying, and starting a family
- Going to a trade school or pursuing other training to learn specialized skills
- Attending a community college
- Continuing on to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree
Similarly, they have various choices about where to live, such as at home, in a dormitory or fraternity/sorority house, in a nearby apartment or house, in another town or state, or in a group home.
To help your child prepare for life as an independent adult, it’s important that you expect your child to be one. Have the same expectations for your teen who is visually impaired as you have for other teens. Begin preparing early, regardless of what your child plans to do after graduating from high school.
No matter what the plan for the future is, to the maximum extent possible, all young adults need to:
- Take care of their personal living needs, such as hygiene, grooming, money management, meal preparation, and shopping. Once young adults, including your own, are out on their own, they’ll have to do these things themselves. It takes time and practice to master these skills. Throughout school years, it will be important for you and your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments to work on the skills needed to live independently. Your teen may need to schedule extra time to learn these independent living skills and apply what has been learned in day-to-day activities.
- Have strong orientation and mobility (O&M) skills to be able to travel to the places they need and want to go. You won’t always be available to provide transportation, so helping your child gain independence in this area is important. You can get some ideas on how to prepare your teenager for nondriving or low vision driving on this website.
- Have strong social skills in order to interact appropriately with others, whether at a job or in a classroom. Teens need to know how to express themselves or advocate in a positive way for what they need, make others feel at ease about their visual impairment, and make friends. Children also need to know how to build healthy relationships and protect themselves from negative or unhealthy interactions with others.
- Use technology to complete many everyday tasks, such as using a computer to word process reports or letters and search the Internet, using an ATM, or operating a digital recorder. New technology is constantly appearing on the market. Your child needs to have skills to evaluate what tools work best, learn to use those tools, know how to get technical help when something goes wrong with the equipment or devices, and have strategies in place to use in situations when preferred technology isn’t available.
As part of the transition process, you may want to discuss these issues with the other members of your child’s educational team. Here are some of the concerns you may also want to explore:
- Postsecondary Education and Training: Should our daughter continue her academic education or decide to get some other kind of training right after high school? Does she have the skills needed to be successful in these programs?
- Housing and Living Arrangements: Where will my teen live after high school? Does he have the daily living skills he needs to live independently?
- Transportation: How will my visually impaired teen get around and travel independently to and from work or school? Can she safely travel in the community without assistance now?
- Work Experiences: Will my child go to work directly after high school? If so, what kind of work will he do and what are the best ways to prepare for the job he wants?
- Social Relationships, Recreation, and Leisure: How can my teen prepare for a satisfying, rewarding, and happy social life as an adult? Does she have friends and participate in recreation and leisure activities now?
Seeking answers to these concerns can help you and your child begin moving toward the next stage of a productive life.