We often hear from parents who are desperately worried about their autistic teenagers as they transition to adulthood. Teenagers can be especially vulnerable at this stage of life as the demands on them increase and the support systems diminish or disappear completely. Young people who may have managed to keep going or even excel within the primary and secondary education system can start to find themselves overwhelmed by the pressure of exams, assignments, deadlines and the expectations from those around that they will go on to study at university, potentially living away from home for the first time in their lives.

We meet teenagers who have struggled to complete A’levels or other college courses and eventually had to withdraw from their studies. Others get as far as university but their mental health deteriorates, they reach crisis point and are unable to complete their degree. We also meet those who make it through their degree but find themselves ill equipped for the world of work and hopeless about their futures. The themes are the same – bright and talented young people overwhelmed and exhausted from years spent trying to adapt on a daily basis to educational and social systems designed for neurotypical brains. This is often called autistic burnout. The symptoms range from anxiety and depression right through to self-harm and suicidal thoughts, sadly even suicide attempts.

It’s no wonder that when parents see this happening they feel desperately worried about their young person’s mental health and wellbeing, and about their future, and often shocked at how life seems to have changed so dramatically for their young person. We understand just how scary it can be as a parent feeling like you don’t know how to help and that there is little or no professional support available.

The good news is that, with the right guidance and the willingness to learn a new autism-friendly approach to parenting for the transition to adulthood you can have a surprisingly big impact on your young person’s mental health and their future. We’ve developed The Navigation Framework, a practical psychology based approach that equips parents of autistic teens and young adults to navigate the transition to adulthood, working alongside them to build an authentic and sustainable life that gives the whole family hope for the future. It’s a slightly different approach to what you’ll see elsewhere because we believe that, while experts (like us) have their place, most of the recovery and growth depends on the emotional environment in the family. This means that when we work directly with young people we always involve the parents as well. Where direct work is not possible, we help parents achieve real and lasting transformations for themselves and their autistic teens/young adults through individual or group coaching and through our membership community, The Haven. The Navigation Framework underpins all the work we do.

We also run other training for parents based on The Navigation Framework. Our six-week intensive course: ‘Helping autistic teens transition to adulthood – The essential guide for parents‘ has been very well received and the parents who took part have experienced significant transformations. Here’s what one parent has told us:

Helping to support a young person during the transition from school to adulthood is challenging for all parents, and for the parents of an autistic young person, it is hugely challenging. It feels like many safety nets are dropping away. The future feels scary. This is a brilliant course, full of practical guidance and a kind, safe space to share and learn. You meet others in a similar boat to your own, which of itself is fantastic. I experienced a “light bulb moment” at least once in every session! Most importantly, the future now feels less scary. I can see so much promise and have discovered an autism-positive community to join.” Emma Colquhoun, parent

You can view our Events page to find out more about previous trainings and events and see what is coming up. You can also subscribe to our mailing list here to make sure you hear about further programmes for parents as soon as they are announced. When you subscribe you’ll also receive a free downloadable e-book: ‘Break Free From the Flawed Formula: The Caring Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Autistic Teen Navigate Young Adulthood.’

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