CHOC’s Thompson Autism Center has added Transition Planning to its suite of Families and Schools Together (FAST) services.

According to FAST@CHOC Program Director Elissa Green Kaustinen, the model being implemented at the Thompson Autism Center is focused on person-driven planning, which seeks to help people with disabilities plan for their future.

J. Thomas Megerian, M.D., Ph.D., pediatric neurologist and clinical director of CHOC’s Thompson Autism Center, said that the FAST program and transition planning services are a key component of the wraparound approach to care at the CHOC center.

“We feel very fortunate to have FAST as part of our program,” said Dr. Megerian. “Our ability to use FAST resources at every stage of our clinical care has been enormous. We integrate it intensely into everything that we do.”

FAST@CHOC

In spring 2020, the CHOC’s Thompson Autism Center signed a five-year agreement with Chapman University’s Thompson Policy Institute on Disability (TPI) to license the FAST program.

Originally developed in 2012 by faculty within the Chapman’s Attallah College of Educational Studies and TPI, the FAST program was designed to assist schools and families of children with disabilities as they navigate the school system, from preschool through college. Though consultation, training, and assessment, FAST helps families, schools, and community service providers collaborate with one another in order to build an effective, high-quality learning plan for school-age children.

Customized versions of the FAST program have also been implemented in partnership with the UCI Health’s Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC).

Since 2013, FAST program sites have provided special education training to more than 600 medical and clinical providers and 1,800 educators, collaborated with 57 different school districts throughout Southern California, and offered direct support to more than 1,300 families.

Transition Services

Dr. Megerian explained that transition services had been part of the FAST implementation plan at CHOC’s Thompson Autism Center since the early planning stages. The CHOC center serves children with autism up to age 21 and seeks to support them as they make the transition into adulthood.

The goal of transition planning is to help people with disabilities plan for their future. FAST’s person-driven planning approach focuses on activities that build on the child or young adult’s strengths and interests and on their vision for their life.

Transition age youth need access to vocational training employment and postsecondary education that can lead to long-term careers. In addition to workforce development, many youth and adults benefit from coordinated support that includes health, wellness, and daily living skills.

“The work FAST is doing to bring in the transition piece in is really critical,” said Dr. Megerian. “School support continues up into up to age 22, so making sure that that the educational plan fits the goals and wishes of the individual and their family is critical. Whether it’s going to college, getting into a vocational program training, or working in the workforce, the plan should reflect what that individual hopes to be doing as an adult.”

Transition Resources

Working in collaboration with the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC), California Department of Rehabilitation, and other partners, TPI has developed numerous resources to improve transition outcomes (such as employment and housing) for people with disabilities:

  • TransitionCA.org: Transition CA provides transition resources related to education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills. The site includes training information, tools, documents, and resource contacts organized by both stakeholder and subject area.
  • Transition Resources Padlet: TPI created a comprehensive padlet for attendees of its Transition Services Breakout Session at the recent 2021 Summit on DisAbility and Inclusion. The padlet includes resource links and planning tools for families, advocates, and educators. Recordings of all four summit breakout sessions are available on TPI’s webpage.
  • Free seminars series: As a follow up to its 2021 Summit on DisAbility and Inclusion, TPI is hosting a series of free virtual workshops to take a deeper dive in to transition planning topics.

Person-Driven Planning to Address Individual Hopes & Dreams
October 12, 2021 at 3–4:30 pm (PT)

Work-Based Learning and Career Pathways
February 8, 2022 at 3–4:30 pm (PT)

Competitive Integrated Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Benefits Planning
May 3, 2022 at 3–4:30 pm (PT)

Visit TransitionCA.org to register for these seminars and other trainings.

 

Thompson Policy Institute on Disability

TPI’s mission is to provide independent information on topics related to disability and facilitate action in areas that require community change. Throughout each year, TPI produces research that results in recommendations to decision-makers at the local, state, and national levels. The aim is to educate stakeholders on these topics in order improving the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and their families.