Today on the blog I have a guest post by very lovely veteran blogger Bethan Townsend. Bethan is a talented writer, consummate twitterer and is the proud owner of a brand new blog aptly entitled The Pieces of Me.
Imagine you’re coming to the end of your school years. Now imagine you’ve been at the same school, possibly hundreds of miles away from your family since you were five years old. Now imagine you’ve got a profound learning disability or Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Not easy right? Every year hundreds, maybe thousands of 18 and 19 year olds with additional needs are removed from the comfort zone of their schools and back into the world. This position is known as transition and in most instances begins at 14 with the aid of a transitional social work who can help the individual make the big decisions about their futures.
Transition from education to work is hard for everyone and it becomes even harder when you’re an individual who requires additional support to perform some of the most basic daily tasks or in some cases, just need a little extra guidance in some areas. There are a range of options for children leaving the safety of residential or special educational schools and making the right decision requires a lot of planning and support, which is why it begins as early as fourteen.
There are a number of fantastic online resources to support both the children entering the transitional period as well as their guardians and people who work in the sector. The government’s Valuing People Now paper discusses all areas of improving life and personalisation for people living with learning disabilities and their families and a whole section of the report is dedicated to transitional services and they pledge that
“Valuing People Now says that all young people with learning disabilities should have person-centred transition reviews and plans, so that they can plan for keeping healthy, where they want to live, a real job, and friends and relationships.”
With this report in mind there are other documents more appropriately designed for the individuals actually making the decisions i.e. the children and young adults. Transition Pathway is fantastic resource accessible to children making the difficult decisions which will shape the beginnings of their adult life. With a range of simple to read and follow diagrams, PDFs and documents, the child in question should be able to confidently make their own decisions with regard to their future work, housing and education. The Transitional Information Network also provide a range of great resources such under the following headings:
- How do I prepare for leaving school?
- I’ve left school – what’s next?
- Where can I find information for me?
The brilliant thing about websites such as these as they are directed at the children and young adults in question, they are all about the person centered approach to care which is fast becoming the only fair and acceptable way of approaching it! Of course, individuals with complex needs may need additional support in making their decisions but charities such as Mencap provide a range of resources for parents and carers too such as their Transition: an introduction guide.
Having worked in the care sector, I have had the opportunity to aid in the transition of one individual with extremely complex needs who was moving from her residential school to her own independent living property with 24 hour support. The new home was in the same town as their parents which was a welcome change as they had lived over 100 miles apart before, as is the case with a lot of families with children with complex needs. The physical transition process was extremely strictly organised in this instance as the individual in question had not been in a car or travelled for nearly twelve years. Every member of the new care team was given the opportunity to visit the individual in her school, stay overnight and spend some time becoming acquainted with them, so they would have some degree of familiarity in her new home. The whole process was extremely eye opening and made me truly understand how labour and time intensive the transitional period can be. Despite this, it’s extremely important. In my line of work I was also unfortunately met with the case of a thirty-eight year old with a severe learning disability who had been at home with their mother their entire life and who had seriously missed out on developing their interests and communication skills. For this person, the transitional stage began late in life when he should have experienced it as a child.
This is not an isolated case. There are many children who (in part due to the constraints of modern society / the UK governmental cuts) reach 14 and are not assigned a transitional social worker or team, in fact they remain with children’s services until they hit eighteen and then their case is simply passed on without second glance. It shouldn’t happen. Transition is an essential and formative part of our lives between childhood and adulthood and should be taken extremely seriously and considered integral. These children need to be supported and helped to make independent decisions for their futures and not be forgotten.
Thanks Beth for sharing this interesting and informative article with us.
Valuing People Now < http://www.valuingpeoplenow.dh.gov.uk/valuing-people-now/transition > – accessed 20/07/2011