This past year has been extremely busy! My son with ASD turned 18 at the beginning of the Summer and that event sent my life into a whirlwind of things to get done. It looked a little something like this:
- Prior to turning 18, I had started the application process with DDS to reapply for my son to be eligible as an adult. I was fortunate that this timeline coincided with his 3-year evaluations at school, so a lot of the requested information was taken care of with this testing. If your child is around 16/17 you will want to reach out to your DDS family coordinator and get the information you will need about this process.
- Since my son will be unable to get his license, I took him to the DMV to get a state identification card. I found out I could have done this at the age of 16 but we got it done and it was fairly easy. Check out the DMV website for all the details.
- A couple of weeks prior to his birthday, I started the process to apply for Social Security for my son. I am glad that I did this prior to his birthday. If I had waited until after he turned 18, they would have not talked to me because I had not yet received guardianship for him. With his approval for Social Security, he automatically received MassHealth insurance – no application process needed thankfully!
- This is a very personal choice. It was the best fit for my son and his needs. I got all the forms online from my local probate court and was able to do this process on my own. I would not recommend this for everyone, but for me, it worked.
The Summer was all about paperwork and forms. Luckily, it was never too overwhelming but it does force you to get organized and know where all the documents you need on your child are located.
The highlight of the Summer for me was my son’s 18th birthday party. It was the first party we had ever held for him that was held outside the home and attended by friends and family…. not just all family. What a night! It was fun and sort of a celebration for me and my husband. We had survived the last 18 years and were better for it. It was as if the past 18 years had all come together in one night with family, old and new teachers and current friends!! I friend of mine but together a photo album for my son. When each person arrived at the party, we took their picture and handed them an index card to write my son a birthday message. After the party, she put all the photos and index cards together and formed a photo album that, 3 months later, he still looks at daily with a smile. I wanted him to have a visual memory of this party and it was the perfect gift!
I guess my hope in writing this blog is to get the wheels turning for parents/guardians of children with ASD who will be celebrating their child’s 18th birthday soon. It is a time of a lot of change and the sooner you can get a grasp on what may need to get done, the easier it will hopefully be for you and your family.