Transitioning to adulthood is a challenging task for those with an FASD and their families. Assessing the services to assist in this process is time consuming and persistence is needed. Nonetheless, it is a crucial task in preparing her/him for a successful future.
The groundwork for this transition lies in the active teaching of life skills. This must start earlier than when the individual is on the brink of adulthood, but, given the ups and downs of life of someone with an FASD and the complexity of any co-morbid mental illness, this is often easier said than done. There are life skills that don't come naturally that must be reinforced throughout time into the twenties. These skills include how to: clean living spaces, wash dishes, shop for food, take public transportation, comparison shop, look for job, etc. While much of this learning may need to occur in the home, there are local agencies and school programs that teach some of these skills., notably in the Occupational Course of Study (OCS). Network in your community to find additional avenues.
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) contains transition services requirements for students with disabilities, which must be addressed in the first Individualized Education Program (IEP) to be in effect when the student turns 16, or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP Team. The IEP will have suggestions as to possible next steps, but, of course, it is up to the family to explore these and other opportunities and to bring these ideas to fruition. Internships, mentorships, volunteer work, and part time jobs can assist your loved one in finding a "passion" which will lead to self confidence, skill building, and potentially a job. For example, many children with an FASD love animals; the animals demand little and respond generously. Encourage your child to go to the library and check out books, at an appropriate developmental level, about careers with animals. While traditionally we may automatically think "vet," we know that this most likely is not an option. There is a long list of jobs involving animals: dog walking, feeding of cats while neighbors are on vacation, staff in boarding facilities, dog groomers, farm help, zoo staff, to name a few.
Often Vocational Rehabilitation will be a first step that is recommended by school staff. According to the website, Voc Rehab, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides counseling, training, education, transportation, job placement, assistive technology and other support services to people with disabilities. There are over 30 VR offices in North Carolina; visit the website to see what office serves your area.
If appropriate, VR may refer the individual to a vocational training program such as WORKSOURCE East (Goldsboro) which offers 24 hour supported living services located nearby. The programs vary in length of training and include: environmental services; welding; automotive services; childcare; food services; carpentry & light construction; personal care aide; brick masonry; grounds maintenance; and printing. WORKSOURCE West is in Morganton.
Other resources exist for training; please note that this list is not exhaustive. Contact us with information about other programs so that those can be listed.
Caramore's vocational program (Carrboro)provides participants with immediate and paid employment while focusing on personal and professional development; two vocational areas are available: landscaping and cleaning.
In 1964, Sargent Shriver started the Job Corps. Job Corps is a "federally funded comprehensive program that provides essential academic and career skills training and prepares students for success in every aspect of their lives." Income eligible students pay nothing for this program. Room and board is included. There are four locations in NC.
Josh's Hope "bridges gaps for young adults with mental illness." Services are multifaceted and include vocational skills, job preparedness, independent life skills and therapeutic supports customized to meet the individual needs of participants. They also work with parents by training them to help their children transition to adult services and navigate multiple systems. Currently (2018), two vocational skill programs exist. The first is Tools for Hope, which is a comprehensive personal skills and vocational training program with an emphasis on teaching carpentry and job preparedness skills while also providing therapeutic supports, supervision, and instruction in Independent Life Skills (ILS). The second is Recipe for Hope, a culinary program in conjunction with Midway Community Kitchen. This program includes learning cooking and food industry terminology, proper use of commercial kitchen equipment, reading, interpreting and modifying recipes, basic food preparation, kitchen health and safety, as well as hospitality service.
The Farm at Penny Lane (Chapel Hill) uses a holistic and sustainable approach to enhance the quality of life of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness by offering opportunities to become healthier and more self-sufficient. Programs include horticultural therapy, farm work days, and Wellness, Education, Leadership, and Lifestyle (WELL).
Started in October 2018, HOPE NC consists of families who are committed to finding housing options for their adult children with developmental disabilities in the Triangle area of North Carolina. HOPE (Housing Options for People with Exceptionalities)
To find other opportunities for transitioning to adulthood, network with others in your community; in addition, NAMI has been helpful to many families for support and information.