Young Adult Diagnosis

  • Find information on transition planning, postsecondary options, job coaching, employment and independent living (ages 18-21)

    Table of Contents:

    • Tips for Continuing Education Planning Into Adulthood
    • Resources to Help Ease Transitions
    • Higher Education
    • Post-Secondary Resources
    • Job Coaching and Employment
    • Customized Employment
    • Independent Living
    • Housing Resources
    • Learn More

    A common challenge for young adults with ASD is their inability to achieve independence at a time when peers are moving out of their parent’s houses, getting jobs or attending post-secondary. Perhaps the teen is struggling to develop meaningful relationships, or find and maintain a job. For some individuals with ASD, post-secondary education, employment, and community living is possible. For others, the goal posts may be different, but no matter the circumstances, a young adult with ASD can be a valued member of the community.

    There are services to help with transitions, such as job coaching, community connections, community living, mental health supports etc. Transition planning is just as important now as ever. At this point in time, your team needs to come together to re-adjust goals and plan for adulthood. Part of the transition planning process is establishing who will participate. While there is no one path or best plan of action for every youth, everyone involved must be willing to “buy the bridge” so to speak. They must all be on Team [insert your child’s name here] one hundred percent of the time!

     Tips for Continuing Transition Planning into Adulthood

    • Gradually introduce independent lifestyle
    • Continue to plan for future employment and social activities
    • Decide if post-secondary education would be a good fit and make the necessary arrangements for visiting schools, accommodations, special supports etc.
    • Apply for appropriate scholarships, bursaries, and grants
    • Maintain contact with disability services and complete school assessments and note if any assessments are outdated or need to be re-done.
    • Seek information or job opportunities. Find out what type of job the individual envisions for him or herself.

    Higher Education

    Planning for your child’s transition out of high school and into higher education can be stressful. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a highly relevant tool to use at this phase. It will identify goals moving beyond high school that reflect realistic opportunities. But it is also important to start planning years in advance for this transition. Provide your child with the tools so that he or she can research post-secondary programs and Universities.

    From the beginning of high school, ensure your child is meeting with a guidance counsellor regularly to make certain he or she is completing the correct courses for his or her intended program. Ensure the school counsellor is flexible with re-defining goals and re-setting expectations. If there appear to be any gaps in the skills or knowledge that is required for the post-secondary program of choice, ensure these are addressed. This could be a requirement for work experience, or participation in school groups and extracurricular activities. The counsellor can help your young adult to get involved in order to make his or her application more desirable.

    The best way to get your questions answered is by contacting the school’s Disability or Learning Services Office directly.

    Things to consider if your child has expressed a desire to attend University or College:

    • Are there support programs in place for individuals with disabilities? Is there an autism community already established at the school?
    • Are there on-campus service providers – such as counsellors; tutors; doctors?
    • The size and location of the campus – it may be easier on your family if your son or daughter attends a school closer to home. Perhaps a smaller school would be more manageable. On the other hand, larger schools may have more support measures in place. These are just things to think about.
    • Will your child be living at home? If not, are there systems in place so that your son or daughter will have the necessary accommodations
    • Once your child has decided on the schools he or she wishes to apply for, consider going to visit them. Get acquainted with the staff, students and instructors. Request to sit in on classes, or stay in accommodations, as this could give you a much better idea of any missing pieces that would be required for your son or daughter to succeed.

    Job Coaching and Employment

     When considering a transition to employment, think about:

    • What are the individual’s strengths, interests, and skills?
    • What level of support is needed for the individual to achieve his or her goals
    • What are the short term and long term goals? Are they realistic?
    • Is paid employment appropriate? Consider how to manage finances.
    • Is volunteer work appropriate?
    • Does the youth qualify for any supported employment programs?

    We suggest you make sure to ask the individual what they see themselves doing and don’t just assume that because, for example, your daughter is interested in animals that she will want to WORK with animals. If employment is a possibility, involve your child completely in the process – consult them on their interests, goals, and concerns.

    Customized Employment

    Creating and customizing a job that matches the job seeker’s skills.

    • Can be accessed through your local Work BC Employment Centre
    • Directly from private employment programs
    • Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation – Employment Program of BC (EPBC)
    • CLBC has a community resource database that can be used to seek out agencies that provide employment supports
    • Pacific Autism Family Centre’s initiative, GO Group, provides paid, goal oriented employment opportunities
    • Ready, Willing & Able is a collaborative initiative working to build a more inclusive workforce

    If there are co-op positions in your child’s high school this can be an excellent way for him or her to experience what it is like to have a job. Vocational training and life skills training can also provide your child with the extra help he or she needs in order to see him/herself as a productive member of the society.

    Independent Living

    There are many possible models for community living for an Adult with ASD, regardless of where they are on the spectrum. While some individuals may be able to live independently, hold a job and a mortgage, others may need more support. Independent living skills can be taught in much the same way as job skills, they can be broken down into tasks. Before thinking about moving out, it is important to really examine the types of supports that the adult may need to have in place in order to successfully live independently or semi-independently. Examples include: access to public transit, safety precautions in the living space, cooking skills etc.


    • How much support is needed for daily activities? Is life skills training needed (cleaning, cooking, shopping, transportation)
    • How much independence is safe? Independence/Interdependence.
    • Is the youth/adult eligible for Community Living BC (CLBC )
    • The possibility of home sharing: a residential option in which an adult with a developmental disability shares a home with someone who is contracted to provide ongoing support.

    It is important to start planning years in advance and making note of any and all needs that the individual has. Look at what is available. Assess the pros and cons of different living environments. Take visits and see how the individual with ASD reacts to the environment: do they seem at peace, and at ease in the space?

    In BC there are six types of residential services to choose from. Do the research and consultations to assess which one will best suit your families needs.

    • Supported Living – Services are relatively minimal in nature, fostering an independent living vibe. Specific support needs are provided when relevant.
    • Supervised Living (semi-independent) – More structured supports are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Life-skills are addressed and the individual may live alone or with others.
    • Group Home Living – Individuals live together in a home and have assistance 24/7. Instruction focuses on living independently such as how to iron, or cook food.
    • Group Living/ Ownership (co-op) – The place itself is owned co-operatively by those individuals who live there, but caregivers are still present to provide support. Like in the group home model, caregivers are hired by an agency contracted by the co-op.
    • Teaching Family Model – Individuals or couples live in a family home with professional teaching parents who work to assist with family-style living support.
    • Assisted Living/ Intermediate Care Facilities – Provide assistance with daily living routines such as hygiene and dressing. Some ICF programs will provide medication and help with reminding clients to take such medication.

    It may be tricky to establish the real differences between the above models. This is because there is a great deal of overlap. We always suggest you visit each type of model and do the research before choosing where the adult will live.

    To learn more or to find resources please click here. To speak with one of our information officers contact us at or call 1-888-437-0880.