For parents of teens living with special needs, the transition to adulthood can be an overwhelming and challenging time.
“Those years are really stressful,” said author and keynote speaker Amy Baskin, who will lead an upcoming workshop for area parents called “What’s Next?”
“The reality is, unless families are really planning ahead, they often don’t have anything in place. You’ve got parents quitting their jobs in order to take care of their children.”
The Oct. 25 event, offered through Jumpstart: The Lambton Kent Teen Transition Committee and Pathways Health Centre for Children – is an interactive workshop designed to help parents guide their special needs children as they transition to adulthood.
“It’s going to be fun, hands-on, and interactive … exploring how you can piece together some meaningful activities or support for your son or daughter, even if funding and programs are limited,” said Baskin, a Guelph-based mom currently facing similar challenges with a her 21-year-old daughter, who has autism.
“I’m also speaking to parents about how to take care of their own health, and their own needs.”
Many special needs teens remain in high school until age 21, but after that, there just aren’t as many supports available – and navigating the system can be daunting, said Karen Holland, teen transition coordinator for Pathways.
Many families end up on lengthy waitlists for things like accessible housing, and Passport funding.
“Some parents say it’s almost like getting to the edge of the cliff,” she said, adding there’s more than 300 transition-age clients (12 to 19) currently accessing services through Pathways in Sarnia.
“The beautiful thing with this committee (Jumpstart) is, we’ve got (two) school boards, service providers, Ministry representatives, and parents on board. And we’re really making sure that everyone is on the right track, getting the same information.”
The ‘What’s Next’ workshop runs Saturday, Oct. 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon at Pathways. Registration is $15 and respite assistance is available.