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How can I increase independence for my adult with special needs?!

Life post-high school leaves adults with special needs lost and unfortunately a lot of times, forgotten. Without the services of speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, social groups, community outings and more, it is hard to know where to turn when all of these suddenly go away. A lot of adults friends are those who have been in class with them for years. With the realities of working parents, non-driving adults, and the scariness of social media and phone usage, it becomes hard to keep in touch with others. Without a job lined up, or a school schedule to follow, progress often stagnates. Parents are left feeling hopeless with little guidance or support. So, what can parents do, when you feel your adult's progress has suddenly stagnated?

Continue services! School has stopped but that doesn't mean the needed support has. Most adults post-high school are eligible for services through Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).

Criteria: To meet the functional criteria for a developmental disability, you must provide documentation that you have a chronic physical and/or intellectual disability that began before you were 22 years old, is expected to be lifelong, and limits your ability to care for yourself and live on your own. Visit the DDD website for more information:

Find a support coordinator in your area to help you with the process:

Download PDF • 951KB

If your adult is not eligible for DDD, many service providers offer out-of-network superbills, in which you can get reimbursement through your insurance. To find services, when researching providers, look for those who specialize with the adult population and focus on functional and individualized services.

Without services, the structure of school, friends to socialize with, ambition for life seems to quickly diminish. In order to increase that motivation, encouraging to be apart of services, clubs, organizations, and programs so that they can see "oh that was fun!" or "I want to go again!". Previewing day programs and potential jobs can help things seem less scary. Meeting with a counselor to discuss life aspirations can be helpful. What is motivating to your adult? Video games? A dinner or movie out? Use "If/Then" language. If you join X, we can do Y. If you try this for X weeks, then we can do Y. Sometimes we need to use what is motivating to them to trial some things that WILL be motivating in the long run. Providers who work on life skills can help guide parents and adults on employment, job, and social skills to help with these areas. Some providers who work on these areas are counselors, life coaches, and Speech Language Pathologists. Look for some of these keys words when researching in order to find someone who will best fit your needs.

Our Speech Therapy practice, located in Metuchen, NJ, also providing services via telehealth across New Jersey and Connecticut, specializes in working with adolescents and adults on executive function, social communication, employment, and life skills.

Has your adult expressed not wanting to be around others with special needs? I encourage you to speak with them about Neurodiversity. Neurodiversity refers to the concept that developmental disorders are normal variations in the brain and Neurodiverse people have strengths and weakness just as those who are Neurotypical.

It is hard to find resources for special needs adults. If looking for services through DDD, applying through the website and finding yourself a support coordinator can be helpful. Google searches, facebook groups, and social media are all opportunities to look for social events, groups, services, workout classes, art classes, and more that are being offered for adults with special needs! Day programs are a great option to continue a "school like" feel while continuing to work on skills. Service providers might even opt to come provide services at your adult's day program. More and more recreational activities are becoming available for this population. Refer to the below list for my recommended adult services in the New Jersey area:



Popcorn For The People

Day Programs

Achieving Better Life Experiences

Union County

Serenity Day Hab

Lakewood, NJ

Speech Therapy & Community Outings

Keys To Communicate

(Middlesex County)

Sharper Speech

(Morris County)

The Therapy Garden

(Monmouth County)

Recreational Activities

Embrace Wellness (Matawan NJ)

At Keys To Communicate, our community outing programs are designed to foster friendships and work on skills while getting out into the community. Located in the Metuchen NJ area, join our next community outing program this fall!

Our Speech Therapy Sessions focus on 1:1 support with functional life, job, and communication skills! E-mail for more information!

If only adult services were as popular as this Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce phenomenon.....!

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