Contributed by Dylan Boot, MS, CRC, Independent Living Specialist
Recent changes in legislation and policy have led to a rejuvenated effort by Centers for Independent Living (CILs) nationwide to provide transitional support to young adults with disabilities graduating high school. When I was hired back in May and first heard about this, I jumped at the chance to be the lead person to help get PACE ready for this change. Why? Not too long ago I was the one graduating high school and I remember how nervous and frightened I was to suddenly be solely responsible for the decisions that I made in a great, big, often unforgiving world.
Youth with disabilities often have a vast support system consisting of family, friends, teachers and other special education professionals. This support system is very important and usually has the youth’s best interests at heart. However, the downside to this is after graduation much of this support (particularly from their school) fades away suddenly, leaving the youth to make his/her own decisions. If he/she has not been guided and prepared for this challenge, it can be quite terrifying and young adults often simply end up staying at home with their parents and not living their lives to their fullest potential. It can be scary even if the youth is ready, as I was… well, for the most part, anyway!
The good news is: there are organizations out there that can pick up the slack and provide support similar to what the schools had provided. CILs, including PACE, are on that list of organizations. All young adults have to do is seek us out! PACE staff, including myself, are more than willing to sit down and help establish an independent living plan and goals that will help the young adult along a path to achieve his/her dreams. There is one crucial difference though: all the decision making power lies with the young adult, not the PACE staff member.
Unfortunately, few are told of the resources available to them upon graduating high school (or even beforehand). If you are reading this, you probably already know of the services available at PACE. However, if you’ve just found us or if you know of a young adult with a disability that may not know about us, contact us or simply stop by our office and learn about our services. Chances are very likely that we can assist you in improving your life in some way. We are here to help!
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Be sure to check back next week for more from PACE, Inc.!