As your child with autism becomes a teenager with autism, in the United States, services will begin to open up that you may not have had access to before. It’s just another confusing step on this overall autism parenting journey.
These services are called habilitation services. But just what are they? And are they really beneficial? I believe that absolutely yes, habilitation services are beneficial for autism when delivered in the right context and setting.
What is habilitation for autism?
For the next part of Autism A to Z, I’m bringing to you something that many won’t have to deal with until their child with autism is an adult with autism. For me, personally, this is something that I am already looking into (waiting lists and all of that good stuff) because I want to know that Sweet B will have something to do after she finishes school. What I’m talking about is habilitation.
But what are the benefits of habilitation? Good question! We’ll talk about that and exploring options depending on where you live. We live in New York so the process that we go through might be different but certain aspects might be the same.
What are habilitation services?
You might be more familiar with the term rehabilitation, which is related to habilitation. Habilitation, or Habilitative services, are health care services that help you keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.
Examples include therapy for a child who isn’t walking or talking at the expected age.
These services may include:
*physical and occupational therapy,
*speech-language pathology, and
*other services for people with disabilities in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.
How do habilitation services help autistic teenagers?
Day Habilitation services are habilitation services that may be provided to an individual regardless of his or her living environment, and regularly take place in a non-residential setting, separate from the individual’s private residence or other home.
As with Community Habilitation services, Day Habilitation services can assist individuals to acquire, retain or improve their self-help, socialization and adaptive skills, including communication, travel and other areas in adult education.
Activities and environments are designed to foster the development of skills and appropriate behavior, greater independence, community inclusion, relationship building, self-advocacy and informed choice. Additionally, individuals accessing day habilitation often contribute to their communities through volunteer work.
How do you receive habilitation services?
Community Habilitation services can be delivered at any non-certified location, including the individual’s home.
*adaptive skill development,
*assistance with activities of daily living (hands-on),
*community inclusion and relationship building,
*training and support for independence in travel,
*adult educational supports,
*development of social skills,
*leisure skills, self-advocacy and informed choice skills,
*and appropriate behavior development to help the individual access their community.
How do you pay for habilitation services?
Here in NY, information about these services and related services and how to obtain them are found at the OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities).
Usually these services are paid for through Medicaid and Medicaid waivers though they can also be paid for through private health insurance, if the insurance covers them.
With Sweet B turning 14 in 2015, we wanted to start exploring all of the available options to her as she gets older.
She’ll be able to continue at her current school until she’s 21, I believe. But after that we need an option for her that’s going to work for her and for us. And as much as I would love to see her living independently, I just can’t see that happening at this point.
But who knows, she might just surprise me later on in life.