Where you're at
As you approach the end of high school, it is a good idea to think about your strengths and weaknesses so that you can identify which areas you need to work on and where you can improve your skills.
You also need to think and be clear about what you really enjoy doing, what you're good at and what you feel passionate about.
Everyone is very different. There will be some things that you can do well compared to your classmates or others your age.
At the same time there may be other skills that you find particularly difficult or that you need more teaching and training to achieve.
Sometimes it is helpful to have a professional assessment. This can be done by a psychologist who can provide a written report that summarises your strengths and weaknesses for you.
You can also do your own assessment by using some of the checklists that are available on the internet.
Autism Speaks has a very comprehensive Community-based Skills Assessment which can be downloaded from there website here.
You can print one of these checklists off from the website and use them to assess where you are doing well and where you might need more assistance. Your parents can assist you with completing the checklist if needed.
Click on Our Stories on the right hand side of the page or click here to read personal stories about working out where you are at.
Where you’re at
As the end of high school approaches, it is a good idea to look at your son or daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, to be aware of how they are managing in life and where their skills and passions lie.
With people varying so widely along the autism spectrum, no two people will be the same. Some will show great strengths in some areas but be far behind in others.
Now that school is over, it not that important for my son to know about say World War 2, or angles or the great painters.
It is important for him to be able to go to our local shops and buy himself a drink and some food.
At this stage, for us parents, it’s time for a bit of a shift in thinking. We need to work out where our children are at, and what matters most from now on.
In order to develop a plan for the future, we need to decide where to focus our energy for this transition period.
Let’s look at this young person in front of us and think about who she wants to become.
We need to look at what’s important to her.
We need to look at what might hold her back from living the life of her choice.
Do we need to do a professional assessment?
Some families and carers do choose to have their child fully assessed. This usually means going to a psychologist and having a range of tests performed that measure learning ability, current autism symptoms and daily living skills.
This kind of testing can be helpful in gaining awareness of how your son or daughter is doing. Sometimes psychologists can work with careers advisors to suggest the sorts of careers that might be suitable.
Doing your own skills assessment
Alternatively, you can do your own skills assessment using some excellent resources.
It’s called the Adolescent Autonomy checklist, you can print if off from the website and use it to assess where your son or daughter is doing well and where they are needing more assistance.
Autism Speaks has also got a new and very comprehensive Community-based Skills Assessment which can be downloaded from there website here.
Click on Our Stories on the right hand side of the page or click here to read personal stories from other parents.
Book – Preparing For Life
The book Preparing For Life by Dr Jed Baker has a curriculum of social skills and instructions on how to teach them. It also includes a handy checklist of essential social skills.
Book – The Social and Life Skills Menu
The Social and Life Skills Menu by Karra M Barber also outlines a number of essential life skills with activities to support teaching them.