LaunchPad: Getting Ready for Adult Years
LaunchPad is very individualized, serving a range of youth from the socially-awkward “Am I really ‘on the spectrum’?” college student to those with clear and severe autism and significant intellectual disability.
Middle Schoolers and Teens
LaunchPad is a one-of-a-kind program. LaunchPad is for parents ready to begin to understand what development during the first ten years of special education will mean for capacities likely to develop in the next 10 years of your child’s life. We know starting to plan for the long-term future is scary, but as one father told us “Tell me whether I need to save for a Special Needs Trust or for College”. The aims of LaunchPad are to help you envision likely day-to-day capacity for social, vocational, and financial independence for your child. When he or she reaches adulthood. This usually involves talking to you, talking to your child, and carrying out testing that helps us look into future talents as well as handicaps
High School Grads and Young Adults
Another parent asked how to help his son after “the day the short yellow school bus stopped coming to their house”. Resources, training, and federal guarantees to anything ‘free and appropriate’ largely end when public schooling does. How do parents support their young adult in advocating for needed resources: What kind of job training will be a fit? Community college? Independent living possibilities? We help parents envision likely and successful paths to as much independence as possible. Our motto: ‘Start low, go slow, but go as far as you can go.’
LaunchPad is a new program for middle, high school, and post-IEP youth on the autism spectrum, and their families. Each LaunchPad evaluation is quite different, but each one is aimed at helping parents and the young person themselves understand transition to adulthood. This includes assessing for well-matched vocational training and apprenticeships, as well as higher education where prerequisites in low interest coursework will not result in early drop-out. LaunchPad is based on the idea of ‘starting low, going slow, but going as far as you can go,’—which might mean, living at home, and ‘just’ succeeding at a ‘supporting role’ job before more tackling more socially challenging activities like starting college courses, or living in a dorm or with house mates. We see even the smartest, most cognitively-high scoring autistic youth as vulnerable, so we eschew just ‘go out there and let’s see if it can work,’ Data tell us many autistic youth accrue depression and anxiety after early post-high school failures at college level coursework, or at jobs they are smart enough but not social enough to master, or at living outside the cocoon of their family home. For youth with autism and other learning or developmental disabilities, we brainstorm a ‘fit’ for strengths as well as help parents envision what long-terms supports are likely to be needed.
For teens and young adults with an intellectual disability as well as an ASD, we help parents think about and plan a conservatorship or Special Needs Trust to create security and safety around future ‘forks in the road’ their child may face. We deal with the practical and psychological factors involved in making future plans for your child, and support referrals and collaborate with legal specialists.