Supporting the transition to adulthood

By Therapy Focus

Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is hard for everyone. It can be particularly challenging for people with neurodevelopmental conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Often, a massive milestone of moving into adulthood is securing employment. In 2014-15 the National Disability Insurance Agency reported that 42% of NDIS participants with autism aged 15 and over were not in the labour force, and only 1 in 4 were employed.

To combat this statistic, the ‘Transition Project’ has been created. The project aims to improve opportunities for adolescents and adults with autism through two critical programs that support the transition to adulthood. The project is funded by the Department of Communities and run by the Curtin Autism Research Group in collaboration with Therapy Focus.

Within the Transition Project sits ‘The Transition Program’. Developed in Sweden, it strives to empower adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum to pursue their goals within life areas such as employment, education and relationships. The program, run in six month periods, consists of group-based workshops in addition to individual mentoring and support.

Before joining the Transition Program, participant Raeden found it challenging to attend school every day or stick to a consistent routine. Raeden’s mother, Rochelle, said that she saw many changes in Raeden throughout the program. “He became committed to things and saw them through from start to end,” Rochelle said.

“His confidence to participate increased, and he thought deeply about his future.”

“He set goals, and routine daily habits were set and stuck to. He took an interest in physical activity and attempted to leave the house more on outings.”

“Parents were also made welcome as part of the program. We could attend the group sessions if required by the child and always had our questions answered.”

For Raeden, it was the one-on-one mentoring sessions with his Therapy Focus therapist that he found to be the most valuable aspect of the program.

“The program is structured so that participants take part in group sessions that provide information on each life domain area, while also working with a therapist, individually, to identify what is important to them,” Therapy Focus clinician Zakyria Anastasi said.

“They explore what they would like to achieve or be able to do by the end of the program, and their therapist mentor supports them to work towards that goal.”

Curtin University Research Associate, Julia Tang, said that the program has been life-changing for many participants.

“It is wonderful to hear from participants who have gained more confidence in their ability to try new things, such as managing their finances, using public transport, and cooking,” she said.

“Consultation with participants, their families and health professionals such as the Therapy Focus clinicians supporting the program has enabled us to gather perspectives on what a successful transition to adulthood might look like for adolescents living with autism.”

Curtin University is currently seeking adults aged 16-30 with Autism Spectrum Disorder to participate in their ongoing program. This will be free for the first 11 applicants. For more information or to register contact Sonya Girdler via email to [email protected]

Alternatively, Therapy Focus customers with or without an autism diagnosis can register their interest in a program commencing in April 2021 via teletherapy, which can be accessed using NDIS funding. For more information or to register contact your local Therapy Focus office. Visit our locations for contact details.

Interested in joining the program?

For direct applications for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder email [email protected].

For more information about the program at Therapy Focus, call us on 1300 135 373 or email us.