Life After High School: Preparing Your Child With Blindness or Low Vision

Young adults have many options when it comes to life after high school. Depending on their abilities and interests, some of the possibilities are:

  • Moving directly into full-time or sheltered employment
  • Setting up a household, marrying, and starting a family
  • Going to a trade school or pursuing other training to learn specialized skills
  • Attending a community college
  • Continuing to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree

Similarly, they have various choices about where to live, such as at home, in a dormitory or fraternity/sorority house, in a nearby apartment or house, in another town or state, or a group home.

Expectations for Independence

To help your child prepare for life as an independent adult, it’s important that you expect your child to be one. Have the same expectations for your teen who is blind or low vision as you have for other teens. Begin preparing early, regardless of what your child plans to do after graduating from high school.

No matter what the plan for the future is, to the maximum extent possible, all young adults need to:

  • Take care of their personal living needs, such as hygiene, grooming, money management, meal preparation, and shopping. Once young adults, including your own, are out on their own, they’ll have to do these things themselves. It takes time and practice to master these skills. During school, collaborating with your child’s TVI on independent living skills is key. Your teen might need extra time to learn and practice these skills daily.
  • Have strong orientation and mobility (O&M) skills to be able to travel independently. You won’t always be available to provide transportation, so helping your child gain independence in this area is important. You can get some ideas on how to prepare your teenager for nondriving or low-vision driving on this website.
  • Have strong social skills in order to interact appropriately with others, whether at a job or in a classroom. Teens need to know how to express themselves or advocate in a positive way for what they need. They also should be able to make others feel at ease about their blindness or low vision, and make friends. Children also need to know how to build healthy relationships and protect themselves from negative or unhealthy interactions with others.
  • Use technology For tasks like word processing, internet searches, using ATMs, or digital recorders, your child must learn technology skills. They need to evaluate new tools, learn their use, get technical help, and have backup strategies when preferred technology is unavailable.

Future Considerations

As part of the transition process, you may want to discuss these issues with the other members of your child’s educational team. Here are some of the concerns you may also want to explore:

  • Postsecondary Education and Training: Should our daughter continue her academic education or decide to get some other kind of training right after high school? Does she have the skills needed to be successful in these programs?
  • Housing and Living Arrangements: Where will my teen live after high school? Does he have the daily living skills he needs to live independently?
  • Transportation: How will my teen get around and travel independently to and from work or school? Can they safely travel in the community without assistance now?
  • Work Experiences: Will my child go to work directly after high school? If so, what kind of work will they do and what are the best ways to prepare for the job they want?
  • Social Relationships, Recreation, and Leisure: How can my teen prepare for a satisfying, rewarding, and happy social life as an adult? Do they have friends and participate in recreation and leisure activities now?

Seeking answers to these concerns can help you and your child begin moving toward the next stage of a productive life.