Post school options

Getting started

After the long years getting to know the ins and outs of the school system, the transition to post school options can be daunting. Transition should start early and be an ongoing process over the last few years of school. Parents need to work closely with their child, their child’s school and other people important to their child to think about some of the following:

  • What are my child’s current strengths? What are his or her interests?

  • What are my child’s short and long term goals in life? Are they interested in further formal education, employment or life skills and recreation?

  • What are their current support needs? What type and how much support do they need for various parts of their life?

  • What do I want for my child?

It may be useful to revisit the Positive Partnerships matrix as a way of putting some of these ideas on paper as a family or with the support of school and other staff.

Options

There are a number of broad options open to people on the autism spectrum, based on their support needs, goals and ambitions. These will vary from state to state but most areas will offer these types of options:  

  • Non-work, recreational programs: these are programs for people with high support needs who wish to pursue an alternative to work or formal study. Programs may involve a range of goals such as gaining independence in everyday activities, travel training, arts, music, health and fitness and community access. Services are generally provided by government or non-government organisations that are funded by respective state governments. Services are generally approached directly; assessments and questionnaires are generally completed to determine the level of support required. Some services in this category are centre or group based while some people prefer to design an individual or ‘self managed’ program. The roll out of the NDIS may impact on how some services are designed and delivered.
  • Transition to work or work readiness programs: generally time limited, these programs provide training for people with mild to moderate support needs who have a goal to be employed. Support is provided across a range of areas and services are generally provided by non-government organisations who receive government funding. Services are generally approached directly, assessments and questionnaires are generally completed to determine the level of support required.
  • Australian disability enterprises: these services provide supported employment opportunities in a range of industries (e.g. packaging, garden maintenance, laundry services) for people who are able to work for at least 8 hours per week. The services can be contacted directly or people can be referred by Centrelink.
  • Disability employment services: these services provide specialist help for people with disability or injury to find and keep a job. Supports may include work preparation and skill development, job search support, on-the-job support including employer and co-worker support and access to help with workplace modifications. Families can contact Centrelink for further information and application.
  • TAFE (Technical and Further Education) colleges: TAFE colleges provide vocational and other training for a range of learners. The system is slightly different in each state and territory (for example, TAFE is run by Charles Darwin University in NT) but all provide varying levels of support for learners with disabilities. Most TAFE colleges run foundation courses in basic academic skills and some provide alternative pathways to completing school. Contact your local TAFE (or similar) for further information.
  • University: Australian universities are subject to the provisions of State and Commonwealth equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation meaning that it is unlawful for them to discriminate against individuals based on their disability. They are required to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the learning program and support for students with disabilities. These supports can include advocacy, computer access, assessment and lecture support, note taking and help accessing library services. ‘Reasonable adjustments’ need to be negotiated in consultation with individual students and the university. Students who would like to access support need to contact the disability support services at their preferred university.

Practical tips

  • Consider applying for Commonwealth funding and payments such as the Disability Support Pension (if appropriate)

  • Consider other options for financial support, including NDIS (as appropriate), travel concessions, companions cards, carer allowance or carers payment depending on your situation.

  • Complete a Planning Matrix with your son or daughter to help them start to think about where their strengths and challenges are.

  • Think about setting up a meeting with the school and other current service providers to start the planning process

  • Look at useful websites to start researching options and other areas of adulthood. Autism Spectrum Australia’s‘Launchpad’ website has a great deal of information for both parents and young people themselves about transitioning to adulthood www.autismlaunchpad.org.au/

Planning matrix examples

Recreation program matrix

Further Education matrix

TAFE or work matrix