In an effort to help families and their adolescents with autism more smoothly navigate the challenging transition into adulthood, Autism Speaks – North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization launched the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit, a unique guide and roadmap to help families on the journey from adolescence to adult life. The free Tool Kit, developed in conjunction with both parents and professionals, features a wealth of practical and actionable information, as well as links to valuable resources.
"The goal of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is to empower families and their adolescents with autism to build a strong foundation for an independent and fulfilling adult life to the best of their ability," said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks' vice president of Family Services. "The transition to adulthood can be a scary and complex process, which is why we sought to provide information from experts – both professional and parents – to create a roadmap and a set of practical tools that will hopefully make this experience as smooth and positive as possible."
One of the guiding principles of the Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is the need to develop self-advocacy skills for all individuals with autism. The kit identifies opportunities and resources to develop these skills with the goal of enabling the adolescent or young adult to participate to the greatest extent possible in their own transition plan. Other topics included in the kit are: Transition Planning and the IEP process, community life, employment, housing, post secondary educational opportunities and health. Tips about internet safety and dealing with issues surrounding sexuality are also featured. A timeline and other organizational tools provide suggested structure for the transition process.
Autism Speaks will offer the Transition Tool Kit free of charge. A standard version can be downloaded at Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit. Tool Kits customized by location are also available for families of adolescents and young adults and can be ordered by registering online. The Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit is modeled after the popular and acclaimed Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families.
"The face of autism is changing with an entire generation of children on the spectrum making their way toward adulthood," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. "While the transition process will be unique for each adolescent, we hope our Tool Kit will help families develop a successful transition plan that reflect the hopes and desires of their loved one living with autism."
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
About Autism Speaks:
Autism Speaks is North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $160 million to research through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks' Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning "Learn the Signs" campaign with the Ad Council has received over $258 million in donated media. Autism Speaks' family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 states. Each year Walk Now forAutism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America.