Autism Spectrum


leaving school and leading your own life

Developing a plan stories


Vicki and Harry – Planning for life after school


I think I seriously began to think about this when Harry was in Year 10. I realised at this point that achieving a University Entrance Rank was not a realistic possibility and that the more realistic goal for him would be vocational training such as a TAFE course or a traineeship.


At the time, this was also a possibly unattainable goal but, always the optimist, I decided this was the goal to shoot for. This involved some tough decisions, which included moving him out of a very supportive school where he had finally formed some friendships, to a large senior campus where he only knew a handful of people. This was done because of the future plan that I had – he needed access to TAFE courses rather than standard HSC courses and his first school could not provide this.


Probably sounds like I was making all the choices for my son, and in many ways this is true, but Harry has great difficulty imagining different future paths and also has difficulty deciding between various things when they are presented as options . He can say what he likes or doesn’t like though once he has experienced things so I decided to expose him to various options that I thought he would like and/or be good at and then ask for his feedback and go from there.


From this experience I learned that he preferred to be around people than to be on his own, that he preferred to do office work than cleaning duties, that he was fast and accurate on a computer but struggled to do anything that required good hand eye coordination and that he liked to do new things but only when they were very clearly explained to him.


Bit by bit, we were able to develop a picture of what he was suited to, and what suited him. I guess my message for planning is to think carefully about what the long term goal may be and then start to work towards that from as early on as possible.


No-one knows your child better than you do – seek all the advice and information you can from teachers and other professionals, but you should also pay close attention to what your instincts are telling you about what is achievable and likely to suit your child.

Vicki G.