Obstacles that We Encountered with Rob's Transition Planning
By Beth Schaffner
The first big obstacle was that the school district transition services (after Rob participated in graduation with his senior class), were a "one-size fits all" model, meaning that all the students "in transition" attended class together at one of the high schools in the district and went out from there in groups to access and learn about the community and to do job development. We communicated and "stuck with" our bottom line - that Rob was to have individualized services based on his strengths, interests and needs. The district then hired a paraprofessional to provide transition services to Rob on an individual basis: take Rob into the community, use public transportation, access community activities based on his interests and do job development.
Another obstacle was the waiting list for adult support services. We signed Rob up for supported living and job support funding at age 14. He didn't come off the waiting list and begin receiving funding for services until he was 25. It wasn't fair that Rob would have to wait to get on with his life, so fortunately, my husband and I were able to subsidize Rob's support needs with our personal funds. Even as early as high school, we hired a young man to be Rob's assistant and facilitator so that he could participate with typical schoolmates in the after school , weekend, and summer activities they all like to do at that age. After Rob left school and as he moved into his first apartment, he was still waiting for supported living funding. We helped him hire and pay individuals to provide him with needed home and community support. Even now that Rob receives some funding for Supported Living Services, we have advocated to assure that he is still the one who chooses his support staff and that they are independent contractors, not employees of adult service agencies for people with developmental disabilities - our experiences have taught us that most adult service agencies specialize in providing congregate services and activities where individuals with disabilities participate in groups with others with disabilities, but that when it comes to full community inclusion and individualized services, looking individually for people who are creative, open, motivated, and have similar interests to Rob is the better way to go.