Ethan turning 18 has been monumental. It has brought many changes, including permanently installed artwork on my foot 😉
Because of Ethan’s developmental disabilities, his entry into adulthood has come with chores and considerations that are both similar and different than that of typically developing young adults. In NJ, there is no assistance for children with disabilities such as SSI or Medicaid like there is in many other states. Adulthood will bring a new flurry of benefits and challenges.
In terms of school, Ethan is afforded 3 extra years of public schooling and can remain in the system until 21. This is a good option for Ethan, especially given his enrollment at the Midland School. One of Midland’s tremendous strengths is their ‘Job Shop’ where the goal is to develop work skills in the students. They have a wide range of experiences available to the ‘super seniors’ who begin working there at 18. The jobs he can test and learn range from supervised piece work, work with animals, seniors and children, office jobs, retail and warehouse work, restaurant and countless other options. The best part – he gets paid for his work! Sure, it’s just a little – but we all have to start somewhere.
Ethan has easily made the connection between ‘work’ and his small paychecks. To solidify how getting a paycheck works, I helped him open a bank account.
He’s been doing a lot of ‘signing on the dotted line’ lately. So not his thing, but he truly rose to the occasion.
I casually slipped his newly minted debit card into my own purse. Once we were in the car, Ethan requested the card. When I informed him that I would hold it for him for now, he reminded me that it was his – his money, his card. Hmpf!
Today, his Selective Service card came in the mail. Oh my!
We still have several more things to muddle through, figure out, and new systems to learn. Buckle up, we are in for a bumpy ride. 🙂