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Transition to Adulthood


Welcome to the xMinds webpage on transitioning to adulthood! This page is designed to help parents of autistic students  plan for their child's transition out of high school.

The move from high school student to young adulthood can be overwhelming for anyone. For autistic individuals and their families, this transition can be especially challenging. After spending years navigating the special education system, families are suddenly dropped into unknown terrain. They must learn new rules of the road, complete with different jargon and acronyms. IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) are no longer in place. Parents and students may wonder, “What’s the new plan?”

Transition planning — which officially starts at age 14 in Maryland as part of a student’s IEP — can help smooth the path to adulthood, easing the move from high school to the adult world. Think of it as a road map guiding the way to a full life that may include employment, independent living, and community engagement. Check out our resources below to help map out your plan. For continued guidance and support, join our Let's Talk Transitions online parent discussion group, the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:00 PM. Like all xMinds events, there is no charge to participate.


FAQs


FAQs About Transitioning to Adulthood

Every time I think of the transition to adulthood it seems too far away or too much to wrap my head around. Where do I begin?
Check out our Transition Timeline to help step you through the process. Look to your child’s school for help along the way. In Maryland, transition planning and services are required to start as part of a student’s IEP by the school year the child turns 14. Come prepared to IEP meetings with your questions and concerns. Reach out to other parents for help. xMinds holds the monthly Let’s Talk Transitions online discussion group for parents of middle and high school students.


At what age should I start planning to transition my child toward the adult world?

As parents, we’re always helping our children gain the independence they’ll need as adults. Official transition planning and services in Maryland are required to start by the school year in which a child turns 14, as part of the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).


What services does MCPS provide to help prepare for transition?
Transition planning and services are part of the IEP beginning no later than age 14 in Maryland. Each MCPS school is assigned a transition support teacher, who will help guide students through the process. Representatives from the Maryland Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services may also attend IEP meetings to help assist students with their career and employment goals.

Students receive a range of transition services, which may include career education, career exploration, social skills and self-advocacy instruction, career technology education, in-school and community work-based learning experiences, independent living skills instruction, and linkage to community agencies. For more information, see MCPS Transition Services.


Can my child take an extra year of school at MCPS to help with transition?
Some individuals with disabilities may elect to stay in school until age 21. There are two main options for graduation in MCPS. Some students with an IEP earn a Maryland High School Diploma, while others earn a Maryland High School Certificate. Students working toward a diploma exit the school system when they’ve earned the diploma. A student who earns a certificate is entitled to receive services until the end of the school year of the student’s 21st birthday.

What programs are available to help prepare my disabled teenager for the work world?
The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), part of the Maryland State Department of Education helps prepare disabled high school students for postsecondary schooling and/or employment. A DORS counselor is assigned to every public high school in Maryland. DORS offers Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) to help disabled high school students, ages 14-21, prepare for future employment, training, or college options. The disability must be documented with an IEP, 504 Plan, doctor’s note, or medical records.

DORS also offers Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services for students with “the most significant” disabilities. Not every student with an IEP is eligible for VR services. Individuals with the most severe disabilities are served on a priority basis. Some eligible individuals with less severe disabilities may be placed on a waiting list for services.  VR services start the next-to-last year of high school and are designed to help participants gain employment in an integrated setting, where they work alongside workers who do not have disabilities.

MCPS also offers career-training programs. The MCPS Community and Career Connections Program offers work-based learning experiences for MCPS students who are at least 18 years old and are pursuing a Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion. MCPS Exploring Careers is an internship program for Montgomery County high school seniors who have an IEP.

We’re fortunate to have a number of local programs that provide job training, internship opportunities, and job support for individuals with disabilities. See our Employment section for a listing of some of these programs.


If my child is not college-bound at this time or ever what other opportunities exist?

There are a number of programs that help prepare individuals with disabilities for the work world. The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) offers Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services for students with “the most significant” disabilities to help them gain employment skills and find work. See our Employment section for a listing of some of the local programs that provide job training and internship programs for individuals with disabilities.
 
How can I connect with other parents for support?
xMinds holds a free monthly online discussion group for Montgomery County parents of autistic students in middle or high school. The Let’s Talk Transitions discussion group meets virtually every fourth Wednesday of the month and is hosted by the xMinds Committee on Student Transitions to Adulthood. You’re welcome to drop in any month! Register online here.

The MC Transitions Listserv offers a wonderful way to exchange information with other parents of disabled students who are nearing adulthood. To subscribe email MCTransitions+subscribe@groups.io. For more ways to connect with other parents, check out our Parent Support section.


What government benefits are available to help adult autistic individuals?
Maryland's Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) is the primary state agency that provides funding and resources to support individuals with developmental disabilities. To qualify for DDA funding, you must show you need support or assistance with daily living activities. DDA doesn’t provide direct services to individuals; instead, it provides funding that can be directed toward community-based providers who supply the needed services and supports, be it life-skills, communication skills, career exploration, job supports, and more. Check out these online videos for a step-by-step guide to the DDA, and see the webinar Untangling the DDA Web.

Students with developmental disabilities may be eligible for special funding from ages 21 to 22 through the Governor’s Transitioning Youth Initiative (GTYI). A collaboration of the DDA and DORS, GTYI earmarks DDA funds for eligible students, who might otherwise not receive immediate funding and would be placed on a lengthy waiting list for adult services.

Some disabled individuals with limited income and resources may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a government benefit administered by the Social Security Administration. Unlike Social Security benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work or a family member's prior work. To qualify for SSI, an individual must be unable to perform "substantial gainful activity." Check online to see the full eligibility criteria.

For more information on benefits, see our section on Government Benefits & Financial Considerations.

Are there any support programs for autistic college students?
A number of postsecondary institutions offer programs that support autistic students enrolled in mainstream education. Check out the College Autism Network and College Autism Spectrum to help identify these. Support programs are available at several local schools, including Montgomery College, Towson University, and the University of Maryland, College Park. These programs help students transition to college life, navigate campus, develop interpersonal and conversational skills, and build self-advocacy skills.

Check out our Postsecondary Education section for more information on preparing for college, selecting a school, support services, scholarship opportunities, and tips on how to succeed on campus.

Are there any special college programs for autistic students with intellectual disabilities?
If you’re looking for programs geared specifically for individuals with intellectual disabilities, check out the college directory at Think College. Locally, you’ll find the Montgomery College Graduate Transition Program (GTP), a two-year certificate program that helps students transition to greater independent living by emphasizing developmentally appropriate educational, vocational, and life-skill services. TerpsEXCEED at University of Maryland, College Park, is a two-year certificate program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition to their coursework, students participate in career development activities, work experiences, internships, and paid jobs. The Mason LIFE program at George Mason University is a four-year postsecondary certificate program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

Will my child's IEP/504 go with them to college?
No, your child’s IEP or 504 Plan will not travel with them to college. Accommodations are available in college, but the process for obtaining them is different than in high school.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school-age children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. In contrast, under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, postsecondary students are granted equal access, along with reasonable accommodations and services to allow them to participate fully in their education.

Postsecondary students must take on the responsibility of requesting accommodations and advocating for themselves to ensure equal access to higher education. While your child’s high school IEP or 504 Plan does not carry forward to college, postsecondary schools may request to see a copy of the documentation to help determine accommodations. Reach out to the postsecondary school’s disability support services office for specific supports and accommodations.

How do I obtain support from my child's college?
Your child should contact the college directly to request support. Most colleges and universities have a disability support services office that can help step students through the process of requesting support. Parents can, of course, help students navigate this process. If a student is deemed eligible for accommodations, colleges will typically provide a letter about needed supports. It is the student’s responsibility to share the accommodations letter with their professors. Colleges may require updated letters each semester; it’s the student’s responsibility to ensure they receive the updated letter and share it with professors.

Will my child’s high school aid me in requesting accommodations/modifications as students transition to college?
Students must reach out to the college directly to request accommodations, typically through the college’s disability support services office. The transition support teacher at your child’s high school can help guide your son or daughter through the process. The transition support teacher can assist the student with researching the college’s disability services; provide support with documentation such as the most recent IEP; communicate with the disability support services (DSS) counselors if parents provide written consent.  

How can I find housing and independent living supports?
You’ll find a number of housing options listed in our Housing section. The current emphasis is on the supported-living model, in which persons with disabilities live in their own home, or share a home with roommates of their choosing, and select the service providers they need to assist them.

Financial assistance for housing is available to eligible individuals through voucher, waiver, and subsidy programs. See our Housing section for more information. Keep in mind that the waiting lists for assistance can be lengthy, so you may want to apply early.

My child has graduated from high school and misses socializing with other autistic teens. How can they connect with others?
Having a full life often includes community engagement and opportunities for socializing and recreation. Check out our Social Scene section for information about activities and organizations that help individuals with disabilities connect with others.

My child is almost an adult, and I haven’t started the transition process. Is it too late to start now?
It’s never too late to get started! Check out our Transition Timeline  for ideas and suggestions. Your child still has a lifetime ahead!


Transition Timeline

Ages 14-15        Ages 16-17        Ages 18-21

Ages 14-15

  • Familiarize yourself with the transition services offered by Montgomery County Public Schools. In Maryland, transition planning must officially begin by the time a student is 14 years old.

  • Meet your transition support teacher. Your IEP team will now include a transition support teacher in addition to your case manager. 

  • Students should start attending IEP meetings at age 14, if not already doing so. Transition planning becomes a key component of IEP meetings. The goal is to facilitate the movement from school to the world of adult work, living, and community participation.

  • Connect with a Coordination of Community Services (CCS) agency. Students deemed eligible for DDA support will receive a letter notifying them of their choice of CCS agencies. The selected CCS will assist individuals in identifying their needs, gaining access to community resources and services, and planning for their future.

  • Enroll in Pre-employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) offered by Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). Available to high school students ages 14 or older. 

  • Create a Transition Planning File with the most recent IEP, psychological and educational evaluations, medical records, and any other relevant assessments.


Ages 16-17
  • Continue to review and update your transition plan based on current interests, skills, challenges, and accomplishments. A transition specialist from the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) may join IEP meetings starting in the student’s second to last year of school.

  • Consider applying for additional employment services with DORS at the beginning of your junior, or next-to-last, year of high school.  ​​Through its Vocational Rehabilitation program, DORS helps eligible students develop employment goals and plan for the services that you will need to be successfully employed. VR services are geared toward students who have the most severe disabilities.

  • Explore job and career opportunities. Consider getting an internship or part-time job to help develop workplace skills and identify career interests. See our Employment section for related resources. 

  • Check out  WorkSource Montgomery’s Young Adult Opportunity Program, which helps 16- to 24-year-olds with career counseling, job training, and job searches.

  • Students who will complete high school by age 18 and who are considering postsecondary education, should start to investigate college options and explore supports for students with disabilities. Check out our list of college resources. 

  • Be sure that your Transition Planning File is up-to-date with the most recent IEP, psychological and educational evaluations, medical records, and any other relevant assessments. Get reassessments as needed to enable eligibility for services and supports.


Ages 18-21
  • At age 18, an individual is considered an adult under Maryland law and is entitled to make their own decisions, unless under guardianship. Consider whether guardianship is appropriate, or if there are other ways to support autistic loved ones, such as supportive decision-making or obtaining legal permission to talk with their healthcare providers. See our Legal Issues section for more information.

  • If needed, obtain psychological and educational evaluations, updated medical records, and any other relevant assessments required for eligibility for services and supports.

  • Individuals who find it difficult to hold substantial gainful employment due to their disability, should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at age 18. If denied, appeal within 60 days. Eligible individuals are automatically enrolled in Medicaid. 

  • Some students with disabilities remain in high school through age 21; continue to review and revise a student’s transition plan during IEP meetings. A transition specialist from the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) will typically join IEP meetings for these students starting in the second to last year of school.

  • Students deemed eligible for DDA services should be connected with a CCS coordinator by their last year of high school, if they haven’t yet.

  • During a student’s last year of high school, a CCS coordinator should meet with the student to develop a Person-Centered Plan (PCP) that centers around the individual’s personal vision for a good life. A PCP focuses on an individual’s unique needs, risks, interests, and goals. The idea is that everyone has the right to live, love, work, play, and pursue self-chosen aspirations.

  • During the last year of high school, schedule a waiver meeting with your CCS, who will help eligible students apply for the appropriate DDA waiver to fund needed services.  

  • Start researching service providers that will be needed upon completing high school. Service providers might include those specializing in Meaningful Day Services that support individuals on their path to employment. See these FAQs on Meaningful Day Services.

  • If you haven’t done so yet, apply for employment-preparation services through DORS.

  • Students who will complete high school between ages 19 to 21 and who are considering postsecondary education, should investigate options. Check out Think College for a directory of over 300 colleges and universities that offer postsecondary education programs geared specifically for students with intellectual disability.

  • Students completing high school at age 21 may receive temporary support from the Governor’s Transitioning Youth Initiative (GTYI). A collaboration of the DDA and DORS, GTYI earmarks DDA funds for eligible students, who might otherwise not receive immediate funding. The initiative supports employment and other day services for students from ages 21 to 22. Coordinate with your CCS to get enrolled for this benefit.




General Guidance

Transition Guides       Websites/Resources      Documentaries      Webinars/Videos      Social Media      

Transition Guides

  • Dude, Where’s My Transition Plan? speaks directly to youth giving them straightforward advice and information as well as checklists to help them prepare for the transition to adulthood. While this guide was prepared for students in Virginia, most of the information is relevant to Maryland students.
  • Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide for Transition to Adulthood provides an overview of the transition process. Packed with evidence-based tips, resource recommendations, informational handouts, and activities for parents and young adults, this guide is available as an PDF download and as a physical book. Published by the Organization for Autism Research.
  • MANSEF Transition Toolkit provides resources and information to help Maryland students, and their families, as they transition to adulthood. Published by the Friends of MANSEF, a parent advisory group to the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF).
  • Maryland Transition Resource Guide offers tips and resources to help plan for adulthood and life after high school. This guidebook is designed to help young adults consider choices, explore options, and take action to prepare for their future. Published by the Maryland Department of Disabilities.
  • MCPS Transition Services and Graduation addresses frequently asked questions about the school system’s graduation requirements and transition services for students with disabilities. Published by MCPS.
  • MCPS's The Transition Connection is a resource directory of local organizations that help recent high school graduates continue their education, find a job, locate housing, or explore other available programs and services. Published by MCPS
  • Navigating the Transition Years explores employment training, housing options, legal matters, and more. Published by Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health.  
  • Roadmap to Transition is a downloadable handbook that walks young autistic people through how to make a transition plan, get supports, and learn about self-determination and self-advocacy. Published by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.


Websites and Resources

  • The Arc of Montgomery County offers disability-benefits counseling, respite coordination for young adults, a transitioning youth resource fair, and more.
  • Center for Parent Information and Resources is a central “hub” of information  including transition resources — created for the network of Parent Centers serving families of children with disabilities. 
  • Charting the Lifecourse Framework offers tools to help individuals and families of all abilities and all ages develop a vision for a good life, identify how to find or develop supports, and discover what it takes to live the lives they want to live. 
  • I’m Determined offers hands-on tools and resources to help youth with disabilities build self-determination to help undertake a measure of control in their lives.
  • Potomac Community Resources is a local nonprofit organization that promotes the inclusion of persons with developmental differences into the local Montgomery County community and provides resources to help with the transition to adulthood.
  • RAISE provides resources and information to help youth and their families with the transition to adulthood.


Documentaries

  • Deej follows DJ Savarese, a nonspeaking autistic student, as he makes his way through high school and dreams of college. Veteran filmmaker Robert Rooy teamed up with DJ (Deej) to make this enlightening documentary.
  • Intelligent Lives is a 70-minute documentary by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib that follows three young American adults with intellectual disabilities as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Habib also created four short films highlighting effective transition practices. These shorts are available to watch for free and each comes with a downloadable discussion guide.


Webinars/Videos/Podcasts

  • Road to Independence Virtual Resource Fair is a five-part webinar series, offering information about mental health, government benefits, housing, independent living, and recreation. Hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington in partnership with the Transition Work Group of Montgomery County.
  • Transition Times is a monthly virtual information session for families and caregivers of individuals with developmental differences who are transitioning to adult life.  Presented by Potomac Community Resources, the program offers information on community services and resources useful to transitioning youth and their families.
  • Transition Work Group YouTube Channel features informational videos from service providers, state and local government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and advocacy groups that help MoCo young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. 


Social Media

  • Families Think College is a private Facebook group for families with a child with intellectual disability or autism, who is interested in going to college. The group offers a forum to ask questions, share concerns, and join in celebrations.
  • Maryland Autism Adult Transition Services is a private Facebook group created to help parents with autistic children learn how to navigate life after age 18, focusing on topics like guardianship, financial planning, and government benefits.
  • Transition Work Group is the Facebook page of the Montgomery County Transition Work Group, which is dedicated to improving the transition to adulthood for young adults with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities. Local organizations post the latest updates about available services and resources.


Parent Support

  • xMinds Let’s Talk Transitions is a free monthly online discussion group for Montgomery County parents of autistic students in middle or high school. Meets virtually every fourth Wednesday of the month, and is hosted by the xMinds Committee on Student Transitions to Adulthood.
  • Parents’ Place of Maryland provides resources, support, and information to parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs. Offers “Guiding the Journey” training to help parents whose children are preparing to transition out of high school.
  • SEEC’s Parent to Parent program is a free and confidential service designed to connect Montgomery County parents and caregivers of children with special needs (age birth to 21) with trained volunteer mentors who have experience raising children with disabilities. 
  • Starobin Counseling conducts a virtual monthly parent support group for parents of older autistic teens and young adults (ages 14-26).  

Government Benefits & Financial Considerations


    Financial Checklist

    Depending on the severity of their disability, some autistic individuals may be eligible for government benefits to help with living expenses, medical costs, housing, and other needed services. This checklist is designed to help track of some of the financial assistance available, as well as some important financial considerations. This should not be construed as a comprehensive list. This content should not be considered as legal, tax, investment, financial, or any other type of advice.

    The DDA is the primary Maryland agency that provides funding and resources to support individuals with developmental disabilities. To be eligible for DDA funding, you must show you need support or assistance with daily living activities. DDA is guided by the principle that individuals with disabilities have the right to direct their lives, and it focuses on “person-centered planning.” As such, DDA doesn’t provide direct services to individuals; instead, it provides funding that can be directed toward community-based providers who supply the needed services and supports, be it life-skills, communication skills, career exploration, job supports, and more. While you can apply for DDA eligibility at any age, DDA recommends starting the process at age 14 if you are seeking assistance at transition time.

    DDA-eligible individuals are connected with a Coordination of Community Services (CCS) provider that will assist them in assessing their needs, planning their future, and gaining access to appropriate resources, services, and supports. CCS agencies help eligible individuals apply for a Medicaid waiver that funds long-term care services and supports in their home or community, rather than in an institutional setting. 

    Check out these online videos for a step-by-step guide to the DDA, and see the webinar Untangling the DDA Web. For more information, contact the Southern Maryland DDA office, 301-362-5100, smro.dda@maryland.gov.

    There’s typically a waiting list to receive DDA services. The GTYI initiative lets students completing high school at age 21 skip the waiting list. A collaboration of the DDA and DOORS, GTYI earmarks DDA funds for students in their transition year. The initiative supports employment and other day services for students from ages 21 to 22. If you are already DDA-eligible and working with a CCS, coordinate with your caseworker to get enrolled in GTYI services. To be considered eligible, an individual must have a developmental disability that results in an inability to live independently without external support or continuing and regular assistance. 

    SSI pays monthly benefits to individuals with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older to help with living expenses. To be eligible, an individual with a disability must be unable to perform "substantial gainful activity." Check online to see the full eligibility criteria. Families may also apply for SSI for their minor children, but their family income and assets are considered when determining eligibility. If a child has previously been turned down for SSI based on family income, reapply for benefits after their 18th birthday when the parents' income will no longer be considered for eligibility purposes. If denied, you can appeal within 60 days.

    In 2022, the maximum monthly SSI benefit is $841. Individuals receiving SSI are allowed to work, but the benefit will be reduced $1 for every $2 of earned income over $65. The Student Earned Income Exclusion allows a person who is under age 22 and regularly attending school to exclude a certain amount of their earnings from their income. Eligible individuals are automatically enrolled in Medicaid, which provides health coverage.  

    • Safeguard your savings. 

    To qualify for SSI, a disabled person may not have more than $2,000 in countable resources. In certain situations, 529 college savings plans are not subject to this limit. Other exceptions include: 

    Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account, a tax-advantaged savings account for individuals with disabilities. Up to $100,000 can be saved in an ABLE account to pay for disability-related expenses without jeopardizing state or federal means-tested benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. (See the Social Security Administration Spotlight on ABLE Accounts).

    Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS), which lets individuals on SSI set aside money to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal.

    Special Needs Trusts provide a way to place a gift or inheritance into a fund designated for a person with a disability, rather than giving it directly. Funds can be placed in the trust without jeopardizing SSI eligibility.

    The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), part of the Maryland State Department of Education, helps prepare high school students for the world of work and/or postsecondary schooling. A DORS counselor is assigned to every public high school in Maryland. DORS pays for Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) for disabled high school students, ages 14-21, who need help preparing for future employment, training, or college options. DORS also helps with Vocational Rehabilitation services for high school students with “the most significant” disabilities. See our Employment section for more information.

      • Explore options for financial assistance with housing. Programs include: 

      The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally-funded, locally administered program that subsidizes the rent of lower-income families, the elderly, and disabled individuals. Previously known as “Section 8” housing.

      Mainstream Vouchers are Housing Choice Vouchers that have been set aside specifically for people with disabilities.

      The Maryland Community Pathways Waiver Service funds residential services and other supports for developmentally and intellectually disabled Maryland residents.

      The Money Follows the Person Bridge Subsidy Program is a three-year tenant-based rental assistance program for eligible participants who are transitioning out of qualified institutions into independent renting. Participants pay 30% of their income to rent and utilities. After three years, they transition to a Housing Choice Voucher or public housing.


      Resources

      ABLE Accounts

      • Maryland ABLE Users’ Guide. A step-by-step guide to determining eligibility, deciding whether an ABLE account is appropriate for you, and opening and managing an account. This guide was developed by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.

      Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

      Special Needs Trusts

      • How to Set Up a Special Needs Trust. Guidance from The Arc of Northern Virginia, which administers special needs trusts for families in Maryland, DC, and Virginia.
      • Trust Basics. Information from Shared Horizons, a DC area nonprofit organization that administers special needs trusts. 

      Disability Benefits

      Financial Planning

       

      Webinars/Podcasts

      • Applying for SSI/SSDI Benefits. Find out how to apply for Social Security benefits during this Potomac Community Resources webinar presented by Michael Dalto of High Note Consulting.
      • Untangling the DDA Web. The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) explains who is eligible for DDA benefits, services, and waivers. Learn how to apply and what support services are funded.


        Postsecondary Education

        H.S. vs. College Accommodations     College Prep Resources    Selecting a School     Programs at Local Colleges

        Support Services     Scholarship Opportunities     College 101: How to Thrive on Campus


        The transition to college can be anxiety-provoking for any student, but it poses special challenges for autistic students, who may need help in areas such as social skills and executive functioning. Luckily, more options and support are available today for students, whether they are pursuing a bachelor’s degree, attending a two-year certificate program tailored to individuals with developmental disabilities, or participating in vocational education. Explore our resources below to help find the right fit and to prepare for the transition.

        High School vs. College Accommodations

        School-age children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. In contrast, postsecondary students are provided with equal access to the curriculum in order to "level the playing field." This switch from entitlement to access is one of the major differences in how individuals with disabilities are supported in these two settings. Postsecondary students must take on the responsibility of requesting accommodations and advocating for themselves. 

        For more information on the differences between high school and postsecondary accommodations, see the sources below.


          College Prep and Planning Resources

          These programs and resources help high school students prepare and plan for the transition to college:

          • Bass Educational Services, LLC provides an array of educational services for students with learning differences, ADHD, ASD, and other special needs. Educational consultants offer guidance and structure throughout the college and postsecondary planning process, provide assistance in gap year programming. Click here to see a 1-hour xMinds webinar by Judy Bass on transition year options for autistic students. 
          • Howard Community College’s Project Access is a four-week college preparatory program designed to facilitate the transition of high school students with disabilities into postsecondary education. This summer program strives to increase the success rate and retention rate of freshmen by providing instruction in relevant academic areas, career development, and college readiness skills.
          • University of Maryland PEERS and EFFECT Programs. These two programs help neurodiverse high school students gain social and executive functioning skills needed for college. PEERS® (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) focuses on social skills and EFFECT (Executive Functioning for Effective Cognitive Transformation) helps with organization and executive functioning.

          Selecting a School

          The resources below can help with your college search. Be sure to also check with the disability support services office at individual schools to see what supports and accommodations are available.

          • ASD Ascend maintains a database of 140 colleges and universities offering support programs for students with autism. Access to the database is fee-based.
          • Think College offers a directory of programs geared specifically for individuals with intellectual disabilities.


          Programs at Local Colleges & Universities

          General skills and enrichment courses

          • The Montgomery College Challenge Program provides open enrollment enrichment courses for adults with developmental disabilities to help them function more independently in their homes, at work, and in the community. 


          Certificate programs

          • The Mason LIFE program at George Mason University is a four-year postsecondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who desire a university experience in a supportive academic environment. Students who finish the LIFE program earn a George Mason Certificate of Completion.
          • The Montgomery College Graduate Transition Program (GTP) provides a supportive college environment in which students can transition to greater independent living through developmentally appropriate educational, vocational, and life-skill services. This two-year, tuition-based, credit-free certificate program focuses on building basic academic skills and enhancing students’ potential success as productive citizens in the community.
          • TerpsEXCEED at University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), is a two-year certificate program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who would not be able to apply and attend UMCP through a traditional pathway. In addition to their coursework, students participate in career development activities, work experiences, internships, and paid jobs.


          Support programs at local universities

          • Best Buddies fosters one-to-one friendships between neurotypical college students and their peers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Available at several local colleges and universities. There is also a Best Buddies Living Program, focusing on inclusive living, that has partnered with Catholic University. 
          • Pathways program provides educational support services for autistic students at several colleges throughout the state, including Montgomery College. Participants attend weekly sessions and receive guidance adjusting to college life, career counseling, and training in workplace skills. Funded by the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), Pathways is open to students with a DORS Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) that supports college as part of a vocational plan. The Virtual College Autism Mentoring Program is offered for students not attending a school affiliated with Pathways.


          Support Services for College Students

          • College Autism Spectrum (CAS) is an independent organization of professionals who assist autistic students. CAS specializes in college counseling (helping students find the right college) and work/career readiness (skill building for interviews, jobs and work skills).
          • College Living Experience (CLE) provides academic, professional, social, and personal support to young adults with autism, ADHD, and other developmental and learning disabilities. CLE has six program locations across the country, including one based in Montgomery County.
          • College Steps is a nonprofit that provides postsecondary support to students with learning and social challenges. Working closely with high schools, colleges, and families, College Steps emphasizes peer-to-peer services that build confidence and success. College Steps works with several colleges, including Northern Virginia Community College.
          • Spectrum Transition Coaching, led by local autism specialist Beth Felsen, provides college readiness coaching focusing on non-academic skills needed for college success: self-advocacy, executive function, social communication, and life skills. Also offers weekly coaching for college students to help them stay on track and manage the stress of college life.
          • Transitions focuses on building academic skills, life skills and general independence for high school graduates and young adults with autism and learning differences.

          Be sure to check with the disability support services office at your college for specific supports and accommodations. Schedule an intake session with the office, if appropriate.


          Scholarship Opportunities

          • Organization for Autism Research sponsors $3,000 scholarships for autistic students pursuing full-time undergraduate education or vocational-technical training. 
          • Autism Can Do Scholarship is a $5,000 scholarship for autistic individuals. Sponsored by John's Crazy Socks, this scholarship program asks applicants to submit a creative sock design.


          College 101: How to Thrive on Campus 

          Books/Guides


          Articles/Websites


          Webinars/Podcasts

          • Yes! Your Child Can Go to College. A look at college options for autistic students. Tips on transition planning and preparing for college. Presented by the University of Maryland TerpsEXCEED program for The Parents’ Place of Maryland. 


          Employment

          Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) Programs  |   Job Training, Internships, and Job Support Programs  |

          Resources |   Videos/Webinars  |    Books

          A key component of transition planning is helping youth prepare for the work world. Research shows that 58% of young autistic adults work for pay outside the home between high school and their early 20s a rate far lower than young adults with other types of disabilities, according to the 2015 National Autism Indicators Report: Transition Into Young Adulthood. Getting an early taste of work may make a difference. The report goes on to say that approximately 90% of youth with autism who had a job during high school also had a job during their early 20s compared to only 40% of those who did not work during high school. 

          Take advantage of the opportunities listed below to develop workplace skills and to explore job and career opportunities.


          Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), Within the Maryland State Department of Education

          The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) serves individuals with disabilities, opening doors to employment opportunities. DORS offers transition services to prepare high school students for the world of work and possibly postsecondary schooling. A DORS counselor is assigned to every public high school in Maryland; click here to find your counselor, or ask at your school. Your DORS counselor will attend IEP meetings whenever possible and may refer you to one — or both — of the two main DORS programs that help youth with documented disabilities prepare for employment: 


          DORS Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS)

          Target audience: High school students with disabilities, ages 14-21, who need help preparing for future employment, training, or college options.

          Specific services: Job exploration counseling, work-based learning experiences, counseling on transition or postsecondary educational programs, workplace-readiness training, and self-advocacy instruction and training.

          Eligibility requirements: A disability documented in an IEP, 504 Plan, or with a doctor’s note.

          How to apply: School representatives often refer students with disabilities to DORS; parents must consent to the referral. Families can also make a referral themselves online, or can contact their local DORS office for help.

          Wait time: There’s no waiting list for Pre-ETS.



          DORS Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services

          Target audience: Adults and high school students nearing graduation, with “the most significant” disabilities, who are seeking competitive employment in an integrated setting, where they are working alongside workers who do not have disabilities and are earning comparable wages to non-disabled workers performing the same tasks. 

          Specific services: Individualized based on the person’s needs. May include counseling and referral services, career decision making, assistance with higher education, technical/vocational training, assistive technology, job preparation, job search assistance, on-the-job training and support, supported employment. Individuals deemed eligible for VR services, must develop an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), with the help of DORS and their school and family. The IPE lists the individual’s employment goal and details the services needed to achieve it.

          Eligibility requirements: The requirements for VR services are more stringent than for Pre-ETS. Typically reserved for individuals that DORS has determined have the “most significant” disabilities. Students who might be eligible are usually referred by their school the year prior to their graduation year.

          How to apply: School representatives often refer students with disabilities to DORS; parents must consent to the referral. Families can also make a referral themselves online, or can contact their local DORS office for help.

          Wait time: Students with the “most significant” disabilities can begin a rehabilitation program without delay. Individuals with a “significant disability” will be placed on a waiting list. DORS does not expect to provide services to individuals with “non-severe disabilities” for the foreseeable future.

          For more information on Pre-ETS and VR services, watch this webinar presented by DORS for the Parents’ Place of Maryland.


          Other DORS Resources

          APPS (Autism Program Planning Success for Employment) helps autistic individuals develop employment readiness skills. Small-group sessions focus on self-determination, self-advocacy, decision-making, career interests and skills, and other employment-related topics.

          Community Rehabilitation Partners (CRP) are non-government organizations that work with individuals with disabilities to help them find, keep, and prepare for employment. A DORS counselor will often refer individuals to one or more CRP as part of an Individualized Plan for Employment.

          Pathways supports autistic postsecondary students as they navigate college and the journey toward employment. Available at several colleges throughout the state, including Montgomery College, the program provides educational support, assistance in adjusting to college life, career counseling and guidance, and employment preparation. The Virtual College Autism Mentoring Program offers online support for students at schools that do not offer an in-person Pathways program.

          Workforce & Technology Center (WTC) is a DORS facility that offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities get ready for work. Services include career assessments, career training, employment services, and work-readiness programs. WTC is located in northeast Baltimore; individuals can stay in an on-site dormitory or commute.

          Weekly Webinars for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood focus on workplace readiness, self-advocacy, and job exploration. Registration is open to students enrolled in DORS Pre-ETS program. 


          Programs and Organizations Providing Job Training, Internships, and Job Support

          • American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) is a national cross-disability civil rights organization that works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities. AAPD’s Summer Internship Program places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in paid summer internships with congressional offices, federal agencies, and organizations within the Washington, DC area. 
          • Broad Futures is a local nonprofit that places young adults with learning disabilities, ages 18-26, into paid summer internships. Broad Futures also offers a college-and-career readiness program in the winter. Both programs are designed for young adults who earned a high school diploma and have the cognitive ability to continue with higher education. 
          • Community Rehabilitation Partners (CRP) are non-government organizations that partner with DORS to help individuals with disabilities find, keep, and prepare for employment. A DORS counselor will often refer individuals to one or more CRP as part of an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).
          • Community Support Services (CSS), based in Gaithersburg, MD, supports autistic adults, ages 21 and older, in their paid, volunteer and/or self-employment endeavors. Support services include career planning, employment training, on-the-job training, and positive behavior programming. CSS maintains partnerships with a variety of local businesses, and is continually building new relationships to find appropriate work for its clients.
          • Job Accommodation Network provides free consulting services for all employees. Services include one-on-one consultation about all aspects of job accommodations, including the accommodation process, accommodation ideas, product vendors, referral to other resources, and ADA compliance assistance.
          • JSSA’s Specialized Employment Services (SES) are offered to individuals with autism and other disabilities. Based in Montgomery County, SES provides assistance creating an effective resume, completing job applications, and practicing interview skills. SES also connects job-seekers to a network of potential employers. Read about a couple success stories.
          • MCPS Community and Career Connections Program gives students the opportunity to engage in work-based learning experiences with minimal support from a job coach. For MCPS students who are at least 18 years old, have successfully completed four years of high school, and are pursuing a Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion.
          • MCPS Exploring Careers is an internship program for Montgomery County high school seniors who have an IEP. Currently based at healthcare and retail locations around Montgomery County, the internship provides  a chance to explore post-secondary interests while practicing real life career and socialization skills. Ask your school's transition support teacher for more details.
          • Melwood is a nonprofit that provides job-training for people with disabilities and connects them with employers in the Washington, DC area. While many of these opportunities are manual jobs, such as mail sorting or landscaping, Melwood recently launched several programs aimed at helping individuals obtain career training and find jobs in fields such as technology and software development. See the Washington Post article about these new programs.
          • Outcomes Service at TLC, located in Rockville, MD, helps youth and young adults with disabilities prepare for the work world and find and keep jobs. Outcomes provides Pre-Employment Transition Services, funded by the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), and other vocational support, funded by the Maryland Development Disabilities Administration (DDA). Private pay options are available for those who do not meet state eligibility or require additional resources.
          • Personalized Career Services provides career services to young adults with autism and other disabilities. The services are personalized to each student’s needs, abilities, and goals. Students can participate in career exploration, assessment, or coaching to identify specific career goals, acquire job seeking skills, and learn about workplace professionalism. Students can also learn about self-advocacy, disclosure, and accommodations as it relates to their needs. Students pursuing postsecondary education can learn of suitable programs, college majors, and schools.
          • Project SEARCH is a one-year school-to-work transition program designed for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are either in their last year of high school or are recent graduates. The organization offers immersive training and internship programs at sites around the world, including Montgomery County Government, the National Institutes of Health, the Smithsonian Institution, and Capital Area Hilton Hotels. Regional programs are supported by Seeking Equality, Empowerment, and Community for People with Developmental Disabilities (SEEC) and The Ivymount School.
          • Sunflower Bakery in Rockville, MD, offers a Pastry Arts Employment Training Program and a Hospitality Employment Training Program for adults 18+ with learning differences. Sunflower also offers a Teen Exposure Summer Program offering baking classes and work exposure for students, ages 16 through graduation, with learning disabilities, ADHD, high-functioning autism, or Asperger’s syndrome. DORS will pay for one session of the teen exposure program for students who have qualified for the DORS Pre-ETS program. 
          • Ticket to Work supports career development for Social Security disability beneficiaries, ages 18 through 64. The program connects participants with free employment services to help them decide if working is right for them, prepare for work, find a job, and maintain success while working. Participants receive services such as career counseling, vocational rehabilitation, and job training from authorized Ticket to Work service providers, such as Employment Networks and state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies. 
          • TransCen provides personalized employment and transition services to youth and adults with disabilities and other life barriers. TransCen is an approved provider of services by the Maryland Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) for Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) and other employment and education services. 
          • Upcounty Community Resources is a nonprofit organization that promotes the full inclusion of persons with developmental and intellectual differences into every aspect of community life. UCR teams up with Dawson’s Market to providing training in retail work. 
          • SEEC Employment Services help job seekers with disabilities identify vocational interests and desired employment. Based in Silver Spring, MD, SEEC also provides on-the-job support to disabled individuals, with the goal of decreasing support as they gain more independence.


          Resources

          • Hire Autism, a program of the Organization for Autism Research, provides step-by-step guides to walk job seekers through the job search process, including job searching, filling out job applications, and writing resumes and cover letters. 

          Videos/Webinars

          • Pre-Employment Transition Services explores the transition services provided by the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). Presented by a DORS representative for the Parents’ Place of Maryland.
          • Why Not Work? This video addresses parent fears and concerns as it relates to employment. Produced by the Maryland Department of Disabilities through the Employment First initiative.


          Books




          Housing

          Obtaining appropriate, affordable housing is a major milestone on the road to independence. While some young adults may not be ready to leave the nest yet, it’s never too early to start planning. It could take years to rise to the top of some waiting lists for housing. Meanwhile, individuals can work on developing independent living skills.

          Take some time to research the options to find the best fit based on an individual’s strengths, needed supports, desired living arrangement, preferred location, and budget. Create a folder or electronic file to track your research and document the steps you’ve taken. 

          If you have a case manager, be sure to reach out for help in your housing search. Individuals eligible for support from the Developmental Disabilities Administration will be connected with a case manager through an approved Coordination of Community Services providerSee our Government Benefits section for more information.

          People with disabilities who want to buy or rent a home are protected against discrimination by the federal Fair Housing Act.  The Maryland Department of Disabilities provides an overview of legal rights with respect to housing here.

           
          Housing Options

          • The Arc Montgomery County owns and operates 35 single-family homes, townhomes, and condos, which it rents to individuals who qualify for DDA benefits. Full residential support services are provided.
          • Community Choice Homes (CCH) provides affordable rental homes in Montgomery County for people with disabilities who have extremely low income. CCH is a partnership between the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County and the Maryland Department of Disabilities. 
          • Community Support Services operates over 40 residential units for adults with developmental disabilities. Provides support with daily living.  
          • HomeAbility helps Maryland homebuyers with disabilities finance their home purchase. 
          • Makom (formerly Jewish Foundation for Group Homes) offers multiple residential options for individuals with disabilities, regardless of faith or creed. The emphasis is on promoting independence, choice, community inclusion, and dignity. Makom’s newest housing initiative, MyPad, helps individuals with disabilities live on their own, on their own terms. MyPad offers affordable housing in Montgomery County. Individuals receive support from service providers of their choice.
          • Mainstreet Connect is an inclusive apartment building and community center located in Rockville, MD, where 25% of the building’s 70 units are set aside for adults with disabilities.
          • Maryland Inclusive Housing Corporation helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities access and maintain inclusive, affordable, and accessible housing by creating opportunities, identifying resources, connecting people, and providing services.
          • The State of Maryland’s Group Home Program helps individuals, qualified limited partnerships, and nonprofit organizations construct, acquire, and/or modify existing housing to serve as a group home for those with special housing needs, including developmentally disabled individuals.


          Voucher/Subsidy/Waiver Programs

          • The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally funded, locally administered program that subsidizes the rent of low-income families, the elderly, and disabled individuals. Previously known as “Section 8” housing.
          • Mainstream Vouchers are Housing Choice Vouchers that have been set aside specifically for people with disabilities.
          • Maryland Inclusive Housing Corporation works to help people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities successfully access and maintain inclusive, affordable, and accessible housing of their choice by creating opportunities, identifying resources, connecting people, and providing services. 
          • The Money Follows the Person Bridge Subsidy Program is a three-year tenant-based rental assistance program for eligible participants who are transitioning out of qualified institutions into independent renting. Participants pay 30% of their income to rent and utilities. After three years, they transition to a Housing Choice Voucher or public housing.


          Support Services/Programs

          • The Arc Montgomery County offers customized, in-home and person-centered support to help adults with disabilities live independently or remain in their family's home. Services range from drop-in support a few hours a month to hands-on supervision several hours each week in areas such as cooking, shopping, banking, scheduling medical appointments, and planning social activities.
          • Community Support Services (CSS) offers support to individuals age 21 and older to live in their home communities, rather than living at home or in an institution. CSS also operates over 40 residential units.
          • Independence Now is a resource and advocacy center that promotes independent living and equal access for people of all ages with all types of disabilities residing in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Programs include independent-living skills training and support services to locate affordable and accessible housing.
          • Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping families with special needs build supportive, integrated communities that enable safe, productive, independent living options for young adults with developmental disabilities. ILO organizes “community pods” in which groups of self-advocates live in close proximity to each other and support each other. ILO also offers a skills inventory to help assess daily living skills and offers training workshops.
          • Jewish Foundation for Group Homes offers support services to developmentally disabled individuals living independently. Supports might include money/budget management, food shopping/preparation, and organization.
          • SEEC’s Community Living Program provides support ranging from drop-in assistance with grocery shopping and bill paying to 24-hour support for those with more significant needs.


          Webinars

          • Maryland's New Housing Initiative. A look at the new emphasis on the supported-living model, in which persons with disabilities live in their own home or share a home with roommates of their choosing. Presented by Maryland Inclusive Housing Corporation as part of Potomac Community Resources' Transition Times series.

          Legal Issues

          Guardianship and alternatives

          In Maryland, an individual is considered an adult at age 18 and given the freedom of decision-making, unless a guardianship is in place. As an adolescent nears age 18, the family may wish to explore whether guardianship or another, less restrictive alternative, is appropriate. Options include:

          Power of attorney gives an individual authority to manage another person’s property and finances and/or health decisions.

          Surrogate decision-making lets a surrogate legally make certain health care decisions for another individual. 

          Social Security's Representative Payment Program provides benefit payment management for beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. A payee, generally a family member or friend, manages the payments on behalf of the beneficiaries.

          HIPAA right of access allows health care and medical services providers to share an individual’s protected health information with designated family members or friends.

          Supported decision-making helps an adult with a disability make his or her own decisions, by using friends, family members, and other people he or she trusts.

          Note: This content should not be considered as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


          Resources

          Age of Majority: A Guide for Parents. This guide offers information on the transfer of rights at the age of majority, steps to prepare adolescents, and legal options, including guardianship. Prepared by the Center for Parent Information and Resources.

          Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Right to Make Choices Toolkit. This guide helps people with disabilities understand decision-making laws and the alternatives to guardianship.

          Guardianship and Its Alternatives: A Handbook on Maryland Law. This handbook discusses guardianship law and offers many alternatives that may be more appropriate and less expensive. By the University of Maryland School of Law's Law & Health Care Program and the Maryland State Bar Association.


          Webinars

          Options for Decision-Making Support When My Child Turns 18. An xMinds webinar on alternatives to guardianship. Panelists include Morgan Whitlatch, legal director of the nonprofit Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, and Adam Hoffman, an autistic adult, who is living independently and making decisions for himself with help from his parents and other members of his support team.

          Guardianship and Other Family Decisions. An overview of what guardianship entails and a look at less restrictive alternatives like durable power of attorney. Presented by attorney Matthew Bogin.

          How Do I Know if I Should Be My Child's Legal Guardian? Eric Jorgensen of Special Needs Navigator shares his insights and his own experience becoming guardian of his autistic son.

          Supported Decision Making for People with Disabilities. The Parents' Place of Maryland speaks about supported decision-making, an alternative to guardianship.


          Practical/Life Skills

          Getting Around

          • Driver’s Education with Additional Support. Montgomery College offers driver’s education classes for students with disabilities. The courses offer differentiated instruction, supplemental aides, and supports, including a multi-sensory approach to learning
          • Driving With Autism. Led by an autistic self-advocate, Driving with Autism runs a live webinar series that's geared toward helping autistic individuals prepare for driver's education and for becoming a driver. Offers a free downloadable resource guide.
          • Montgomery County Department of Transportation. A range of transportation services are available for individuals with disabilities, including free rides on Ride On, subsidized taxi trips through Call-n-Ride, and free rides through Connect-A-Ride.

          Self Advocacy

          • Independence Now is a nonprofit organization designed, governed, and staffed by people with disabilities. Part of a nationwide network of Centers for Independent Living, Independence Now is a resource and advocacy center that promotes independent living and equal access for people of all ages with all types of disabilities residing in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.
          • People on the Go of Maryland is a group of advocates who use their voices to be heard and recognized on employment, education, housing, civil rights, and transportation issues.

          Life Skills

          • Independence Now is a nonprofit organization designed, governed and staffed by people with disabilities. Services include peer counseling in which individuals with disabilities serve as role models and guides to independence. Services are available in Montgomery and Prince George’s County.
          • Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) helps adults with disabilities in the Maryland/DC area transition to independent living, with the focus on supportive integrated communities. ILO offers the Full-Life Process™ Skills Inventory to help determine what an individual needs to do to be more self sufficient. 
          • Meaningful Opportunities for Successful Transitions (MOST)™ is a one-year program designed to facilitate successful transition into the adult community. Offered by Makom (formerly Jewish Foundation for Group Homes), the MOST™ program focuses on developing self-sufficiency, learning to navigate within the community, and building vocation skills and readiness.
          • The Montgomery College Challenge Program provides a range of enrichment courses for adults with developmental disabilities to help them function more independently in their homes, at work, and in the community. Topics include life skills, communications skills, money management, and safety skills.
          • Social Grace's Community Support Services offers one-to-one services that assist a neurodiverse individual to live and participate as independently and effectively as possible in home, work, and community settings. Emphasis is on executive function and social skills, self-regulation, life skills, education, financial management, assistive technology, travel training, and personal care/hygiene.


          Social Scene


          Having a full life often includes community engagement and opportunities for recreation and socializing. Check out the possibilities below, and see the webinar New Ways of Having Fun, presented by Potomac Community Resources, for an overview of local social and recreational activities.

          Socializing

          • Autistics Association of Greater Washington strives to connect members with the right services, inspire confidence, organize social activities, reduce isolation, and advance policy interests. The group currently conducts meetings virtually. Past social events include an annual dinner and an annual Potomac boat ride.
          • Quirky Buds is a matching system that helps individuals with different abilities connect with like-minded individuals who live near them. Quirky Buds was started by Caroline Turner, a licensed social worker in Austin, Texas, who developed Quirky Buds after receiving repeated requests from clients, advocates, and community members looking for ways to connect socially. To get started you provide some basic information about the interested individual, including zip code, birthdate, interests, and mode of communication. Once a nearby match is found, you’ll receive an email introduction that will make it easy for you to connect if you want. Click Here for more Information and to complete the interest form.  Note: Please consider taking precautions as you would when meeting any new individual, such as initially meeting in a public place.

          • Dating for Disabled is is an online dating and social networking community for singles with a disability.

          • Empowerment, Advocacy & Sexuality Education (Ease) offers sexuality education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their courses strive to give people with IDD the ability to make informed and healthy choices, advocate for themselves, prevent abuse, enjoy healthy relationships, and see themselves as sexual beings. Classes offered for teens and young adults.

          • DC Peers is a nonprofit providing innovative free/low-cost social learning, social groups, and social coaching for teens and young adults. Programs bring neurotypical and autistic peers together to learn how neurological differences affect social interactions.
          • Expanded Horizons is a social group for independent adults with learning disabilities and autism in Montgomery County.
          • Hiki is a friendship and dating app for the autistic community. Find out about more in this news article.
          • Jubilee Association of Maryland offers social events like summer picnics, dances, trips, and holiday parties. Offers both in-person and virtual programs.
          • People First for Young Adults is a social and self-advocacy group for youth with disabilities, ages 14-26. The group aims to help individuals with disabilities understand the importance of self-advocacy and empower them to speak out for themselves. Participants practice public speaking skills, plan social outings, and learn from guest speakers about life skills, advocacy, social skills, and more.
          • Upcounty Community Resources is a nonprofit organization that offers social events for those with developmental and intellectual differences.

          Recreational Activities

          • ArtStream offers performing arts classes and workshops for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Offerings focus on theater arts, improv, singing, dance, comedy, and more.
          • Montgomery Parks offers inclusive recreational programs as well as activities geared for people with disabilities.
          • Potomac Community Resources (PCR) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the inclusion of persons with developmental differences into the life of our community. PCR offers a range of recreational classes in fitness, music, communications, and more.
          • Spirit Club offers fitness programs that empower people of all abilities to exercise successfully in a socially integrated setting.
          • Sports Plus provides instructional sports, swim, social, and pre-employment training programs to children, teens, and young adults with autism and other disabilities.
          • Upcounty Community Resources is a nonprofit organization that offers recreational and social events, including a walking club, music and art classes, and theater outings.
          • VisAbility Art Lab provides neurodiverse artists of all ages and abilities with a creative space, art materials, and guidance from professional artists. Offered through VisArts in Rockville, MD.


          Please note that inclusion of any organizations, services, products, or classes on this page does not constitute an endorsement by xMinds. This content is general in nature and should not be considered as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. We welcome recommendations of additional resources. The reader of this information assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

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