A true challenge facing parents and care professionals is how to craft a complete, fulfilling, and inclusive life for adults with autism. In this episode of our ongoing blogcast series, Monica Meyer shares her wisdom and experience.
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Today we’re talking with Monica Meyer, of Monica Meyer Consulting, an expert in adult autism.
Monica, how do I build an inclusive, whole life for adults with autism?
Monica Meyer: Well, that’s pretty much a loaded question, isn’t it? There’s a lot to build up, but how everybody needs to start is, by determining what you want, and that really is through the eyes of the person with autism. So what we really need to do is, by using a tool that is referred to as a person centered plan. That person centered plan, there are different adaptations to facilitating a person centered plan, but ultimately the result is identifying what the interests, strength, and talents of a person with autism, then identifying what is it that this person wants to do. And collectively what I refer to is, providing structured opportunities for people with autism in the community.
Now what do I mean by a structured opportunity, being that based on the needs of the person with autism, and I will give my son for example. He needs visual supports, he needs to know what’s gonna be happening once he gets into that environment, what are the expectations, and when is he gonna leave. So there is a process of understanding, first by understanding what the skills and strengths and interest of the person is, identifying where do we wanna go, and how do we wanna move this person forward. And then, ultimately putting something in a plan so that each year, whether the person is in community services though your state or county representatives, or if it’s a family, if by looking at where were we, where do we wanna go, and what are the next steps that we need to put in place.
And that, a lot of times, for families can get caught up in just the every day support needs of a person with more significant support needs that often times is just looked at as “Oh, it’s another task we need to do.” And I’m really here to say that it is an important task to do something in the lines of the person centered plan. Of knowing where are we gonna go, because as we know a few … whether you have a plan or not, don’t be surprised where you end up. And so, by having a plan you could always look at, “Where were we? Did it work? And how can we move forward?” And it’s just not a process of doing a plan for the sake of paperwork, it is doing a plan that’s comprehensive for the individual, without reinventing the wheel. That includes training, that includes having access to a recreation, leisure, their spiritual community, being not a process, being able to contribute to the community, just as anybody else would, rather than a situation where for many years it was more “Would you help this person with a disability?” What we want to do is, “This person with a disability has strengths, and interests, and talents that can help you in your community.”
A Contributing Member of the Community
And so, rather than being the one who are seemingly with their hand out … that is seemingly, they’re not, it is the other way that I’m here as a person with autism that can contribute to a community, and that’s ultimately what everybody wants, is “I’m part of a community, and I have contributed.” So having a plan in place, being able to provide structured opportunities so that person can have an experience and choice, and then ultimately giving back to the community. Those are kinda the three focus points that you wanna look at. And don’t reinvent the wheel, there is a process that we can put in place and it’s not just what I would refer to a lot of times, it as a kumbaya moment, it is not “Oh, isn’t this great” we’ll all give each others hugs and we walk away, and we never look at the plan again. It is, “All right, what do we need to do in the next month, three months, six months, nine months, in a year, to make sure that we have a plan that comes together for the benefit of the person with autism?”
Thank you Monica. For more information, listeners may call Monica at 360-904-8938, or visit MonicaMeyer.com.
Monica’s take is that much progress has been made in bringing adults with autism into the “mainstream world” through planning life experiences, activities, and even employment. Yet, as she points out, there’s much more to do—call today to learn more!