By Roberta Dunn, Executive Director
When should you plan for the future? Yesterday!
I remember the night the doctor came in and told me my son has Down syndrome. Two questions swirled in my mind: “Will he go to the prom?” “Will he ever play footsies with a lover in bed?” At the time I didn’t know it, but by asking myself, “What will life look like when this little guy is all grown up?”, I was beginning to plan for his future!
Whether your child is finishing his or her elementary years, in the midst of middle school, or on the threshold of adulthood in high school, it is time to plan for life after school! If that thought has you shaking in your boots, here are a few recommended action steps:
- CHART THE COURSE – Dream big dreams! Without a dream or vision for what the future might hold, you lack a destination towards which to work. Once you have a vision for your child’s future, you have your “north star,” that target towards which you work, and the guide that keeps you focused on the path to getting there. Person-centered planning is one way to identify your vision. This child-centered process helps you identify your child’s strengths, gifts, and capacities, along with his or her hopes and dreams for the future. The results become an action plan for arriving at the future you envision for your child.
- BUILD COMMUNITY – Make the most of every opportunity to build community for your child while s/he is in school. This is easier than it sounds! In reality, we are surrounded by opportunities every day. Start by exploring the community around you, and identify potential employers. For example, your daughter enjoys where she gets her hair done; is that something she might like to do when she is out of school? Your son has been in the choir for four years in high school. Perhaps he would be interested in joining a community choir? Do any of his peers from school plan on doing this too? Building your child’s skills in his or her natural environment will also show you strengths that can support employment. For example, if your child likes going to the movies and the mall, s/he can learn how to ride the bus there. This expands his/her reach into the community, increasing potential employment opportunities.
- CONNECT – You are not alone! Other parents of children experiencing disability have successfully launched their children into adulthood. Connect with them, learn from their experiences, and partner with others in a similar point in the journey as you. FACT P2P can assist with this, along with the Family Network in your community.
- DON’T WAIT – Time marches on, and before you know it, your young person will be an adult!
So when do you plan for the future? Now! Register today for the Great Expectations! event in your region.