May 14, 2022

Strategies for a bright future

High school graduation can be a difficult and lonely for autistic teens with no plans for the future. Occupational therapy can help them reach goals they previously thought were unattainable; it helps them define their strengths while identifying areas that need improvement.

Veda Collmer
Strategies for a bright future

Planning for the future: How VedaOT helps autistic people achieve their goals

Life happens in stages- attending primary school and middle school, graduating from high school, choosing between college or a job, starting a family, and retirement. Each person’s life stages are highly personal and present different challenges and opportunities.  Everyone must learn to move through life’s stages for growth and for a meaningful existence.  Some stages are tougher to tackle, require more time for success, and may require more support (e.g., family, friends, assistance from professionals).  At each transition, there is a risk that the person will get stuck and struggle to move forward.  Nobody moves through life’s transitions without significant help from others.  Successfully transitioning to each of life’s stages helps the individual develop self-advocacy, autonomy, and decision-making skills.    

People with autism may need help planning their future

Autistic people may need help with the transition from school to adult life. Employment opportunities for autistic people have historically been limited. Employers often do not understand the autistic person’s capabilities, or the accommodations required to support the individual in the workplace. Autistic people who do learn how to advocate for themselves (e.g., educating others about their needs and the accommodations best suited for their success) have greater chances of succeeding in the workplace. Furthermore, autistic people may need help defining their future vision and planning the steps to achieve their goals.  While the possibilities are unlimited, professionals and family members may not understand how to support an autistic person in articulating and pursuing their dreams.  

As a result of these challenges, autistic people are not receiving adequate support for successful transitions to adulthood.  While the Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA) mandates that schools provide special education students with a transition plan by age 16, statistics show that people with disabilities have much lower rates of employment as their non-disabled peers.i  Lack of employment opportunities have resulted in many autistic people being unable to live outside their families’ homes.  And while autism is a lifelong condition, services drop off significantly after age 22.ii   In fact, approximately 1,116,000 autistic teens will enter adulthood within the next decade after aging out of school-based autism services.iii

Autistic people and their families cannot rely only on educational services and agencies to provide adequate transition planning services.  Transition planning requires a creative approach to develop a plan customized for the individual.  It requires time and flexibility to learn about the individual and try out different options.  It requires patience, because there will be roadblocks that require change, adaptation, revisions, and problem solving.  It requires collaboration with the individual, the family, professionals, and others to develop and implement the right plan geared for the individual’s success. Lastly, it continues past age 22, when other formal services end.iv

Occupational therapy’s role in transition planning

Occupational therapists are uniquely positioned to help autistic people transition to different phases of life, including the big transition to adulthood.  The occupational therapy mission is to empower individuals to learn how to thrive. Occupational therapists are trained in coaching and mentorship tactics to educate clients to become independent in their daily life.  Occupational therapists have experience providing intensive support in the beginning of the relationship with the objective to fade out as the client develops autonomy, self-determination, and decision-making skills for navigating their life. Furthermore, occupational therapists are trained in neurodevelopment, sensory processing, and adaptive strategies to support clients' current capabilities and recommend adaptations. The occupational therapist can educate the individual on how to capitalize on their strengths and identify techniques for overcoming challenges.v  

VedaOT helps autistic people move into adulthood

VedaOT is a different type of occupational therapy service.  We focus solely on helping autistic individuals transition through the different phases of life.  Our relationship with clients begins with a detailed interview about the individual’s interests, strengths, challenges and current supports.  We may not perform lengthy standardized assessments if the results are not relevant to the work we are doing with the individual.  

Life planning requires an individualized plan for the future and a flexible process for implementing that plan.  Life planning and navigating transitions in a way that is meaningful for autistic individuals is a part of life itself, and not a medical problem.  This is the reason health insurance coverage for VedaOT services would not be effective for the services we offer.  Health insurance pays for healthcare and the insurer directs how services are delivered.  Our services require that the client is in control of the plan and not the insurance company.  Therefore, we are not contracted with insurance companies, and we do not accept insurance.

Our services are flexible and designed to benefit our clients.  We work with clients at their current stage of transition planning.  It is never too early or too late to seek VedaOT support for navigating life’s many transitions.  We do not promise to be able to solve every problem or meet every need.  However, we do promise we will coach our clients in the skills for meeting their needs and achieving their own goals. For example, if a client needs help with augmentative technology, we will find the right expert to help address the need.  

Lastly, VedaOT promises to empower knowledge to promote independence in all aspects of daily life.  We promise to teach our clients how to solve their own problems, how to educate others about their needs, how to identify the right supports for a fulfilling life.  

If you are interested in learning more, please email us at


[1]Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Accessed May 15, 2022.

[2] 10Things to Know About Autism and Employment. verywellhealth.  Last accessed May15, 2022.

[3] AutismStatistics and Facts.  Autism Speaks. Last accessed May 15, 2022.

[3]Transition to Adulthood: Where Do We Start? Pacer’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment. Last accessed May 15, 2022.

[4]Transitions for Children and Youth: How Occupational Therapy Can Help.  AOTA. Last accessed May 15, 2022.

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