Autism Spectrum


leaving school and leading your own life

Developing a plan


As your child approaches the last few years of formal schooling, your focus will naturally begin to shift to thinking about life after school.

This transition can be a difficult one for many young people. However, once students on the autism spectrum leave school, they are likely to face more challenges. As such, they will require careful planning and support to put them on a path to success.

One of the most important things to do–starting in the middle high school years–is to develop a plan.

Up  until now, you have probably been doing most of the planning on their behalf. But as the time for thinking about life after school nears, it is crucial that your son or daughter gets involved in the planning process to the best of their abilities.

You will hear the term “person-centred planning” used a lot.

These days, both federal and state governments are giving a great deal more choice to people with disabilities and to their families and carers.

When we think about person-centred planning, there are five main points to keep in mind:

  • The person with the disability is at the centre of the planning: their needs and desires come first.
  • Families and carers are partners of the person they care for.
  • The person’s needs, desires, and the supports they need–both now and in the future–are considered.
  • The person is helped to be a part of the community they choose to belong to, and the community is assisted to make that person feel a part of it.
  • The person-centred plan remains flexible and adaptable to changing needs.

You will also hear the term “self-directed funding”. This means that the person with the disability should be in charge of their own life, supports, and funding as much as is possible.

Some young people will be able to participate in planning meetings and discussions and can clearly articulate their needs and desires.

However, many young people will have difficulty doing this and will need support from parents, families or friends.

Nonetheless, the idea is to have the needs and desires of the person with the disability driving decisions about how their life is lived and how funding is used, to the best of their ability.

On the Young People tabs throughout this section, we have provided links to a number of resources that can assist young people in developing the skills they need to develop a plan and to make their own choices. Feel free to have a look and encourage your son or daughter to try them out if they haven’t already done so.

To help break down the planning process, we have included a possible timeline below.


Possible timeline

Year 9

This is a good time to begin to involve your son or daughter in school meetings and encourage decision making skills.

It is also a good time to evaluate where they are at in terms of independent living skills (getting out and about, basic cooking skills, dressing and grooming, using phone and other technology), and develop some goals about teaching new skills in this area.

You can use some of the checklists that are available to help you with this in the Where you’re at section.


Year 10

This is the time to start focusing on strengths and interests and possible employment options after school.

In conjunction with the learning support team and/or the careers advisor, some possible post school options can be considered such as further study or possible career options. This knowledge can then guide subject choices for Years 11 and 12.

Some part time work or volunteering in the local community should be considered.

It is also important to continue to work on independent living skills, looking at some of the higher level skills e.g. knowing the rules about getting a licence and learning to drive.


Year 11

At this age, you can enquire about Centrelink entitlements for young adults with disability.

This is also a good time to become familiar with the post school options

Have a look at the options themselves, and then start to look into the service providers which are local and convenient to you.

You can also attend one of the post school options expos that occur in April/May each year – your learning support team or school counsellor should have dates and location details. Here you will be able to talk to many service providers.

This is also a good time to become familiar with further study options such as TAFE and University courses. And of course, continue to work on independent living skills throughout this time.


Year 12

Assessments for post school options will be conducted by a member of the learning support team in April/May of this year. Results are provided in September.

By now, you will need to choose a service provider and have a clearer idea about study  or employment options.

It may also be timely to revise where your son or daughter is at in terms of independent living skills, perhaps utilising a good checklist again.

Identifying the gaps that are most likely to create barriers for them after school and engaging in direct teaching and practice to further independence skills continues to be important.

Click on Our Stories on the right hand side of the page or click here to read personal stories about developing a plan.