Five Transition Tips for Children with Special Needs
Though this article is specific to families in New Jersey, it is a great list to consider as children with special needs approach the age of 18. This is an age in which a lot of transitions occur for all children, but for those with special needs it is imperative they continue to have the supports in place they need for life after 18.
Amanda Oglesby, @OglesbyAPP
Growing up isn't easy, and it can be particularly difficult for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities and the parents who care for them.
Each year thousands of students with special needs "age out" of services provided by their schools. Their care under the New Jersey Department of Education comes to an end.
Thirty-six percent of students between the ages of 3 and 21 had a learning disability in the 2011-12 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
By 18, people with developmental disabilities such as autism are considered adults under New Jersey, even if they need continuing care and educational services. Schools provide their services until age 21, but afterward, parents need to seek services through the state Division of Developmental Disabilities or Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
"Age 18 is an important age when thinking about transition and the future," said Anne Marie Mazzu, an attorney who specializes in trusts and estates and who works at Davison Eastman & Munoz, a law firm with offices in Freehold, Toms River and Red Bank. Mazzu also has a 20-year-old son with autism, and she is preparing for his transition from school to life after.
"The last thing you want to do is to have an autistic child at home at age 21 without getting any support," she said. "You will see regression."