High School

High School

The high school years can be both exciting and challenging for parents and students. Teenagers go through amazing physical, psychological and cultural growth. When you mix together the effects of hormones and puberty and the features of Special Needs, and it will be an interesting four years or so!

Parents often feel mixed emotions when they see their child transform into an adult. Along with the growth and changes, come new concerns and worries. Parents worry whether their teenager will weather the storm of adolescence and handle the physical changes. Parents are concerned about how their teens will meet the demands of high school, and how they will keep up academically. They want their young person to be included in the rich social life that is central to high school.

Looming in the back of parents’ minds is the nagging thought, “What’s next?” We wonder and worry what will become of this grown-up child. We want to be sure he or she will have a good life.

BFF – had to decide if we could include everything you wanted to know about high school and adolescence in this section of the website, or if we should take a particular focus on preparing your child for the future. We will provide resources about adolescence focusing on parent’s central role in working with the school district and other partners to create and carry out a meaningful educational plan that can have a positive effect on your child’s future.

We have chosen this priority from personal experience and from listening to hundreds of parents. Many parents regret not having understood and been more active in the transition process, realizing too late what it was all about. Others were frustrated because the process was difficult and confusing. We hope to provide key information so that the process becomes clear, and to introduce enough resources to get you through successfully!

The developmental, social, emotional, health, safety, behavioral, vocational, independence and academic aspects of high school are all part of the process of preparing your child for the future. All of these areas can also be included as elements of the transition plan, which is the main focus of this section of the website.

When a parent says she wants her young adult to “have a life of his own,” it does not mean that the young adult will do everything alone. Independent does not mean alone. None of us gets through life alone (hopefully!). Rather, we are interdependent. We rely on one another for information, support, help, and emotional connection. We have different networks of friends and relationships for different purposes. Do you call the same friend when your computer has a virus as when you need a recipe for chicken?

NO, our adult children will need different levels of support and guidance in their adult lives, just as they do now. A big part of planning for adulthood is creating a support team so that the person with Special Needs has the support that he or she needs. So picture your children having good lives with people around them who provide the support and guidance they need for a safe and happy life. This way, parents are not alone in navigating the services system, finding resources, or solving problems for their adult children.

While it may be hard to picture your child leaving home to be happy, safe, and successful somewhere else, a good transition plan makes it possible for the young person to take on adult responsibilities as he or she is able. Part of transition is lifting some responsibility from the shoulders of parents. This is the time to create a circle of support, passing on some of the responsibility for care, supervision and support to others.

When we see the features of Special Needs in a high-school-aged child, we notice that the teen is often not able to do the things we expect him or her to do. He or she may be less able to cope with the socially and academically demands of high school and have unexpected ways to respond or cope. For example, most high school students prize their social relationships above all else, and begin dating. Children with Special Needs may not have friends to provide practical or emotional support they need, or know how to relate to others of the opposite sex. Meltdowns, withdrawal, or high levels of anxiety may affect children. Many children with needs considerable support to progress and learn, socially, emotionally and academically, in high school and transform into capable adults. One of the first things you can do to help your high-school-age child who is diagnosed with Special Needs is to be sure you understand the social, communication, behavior, sensory, physical and cognitive/learning differences that are part of it. You need to know how each of these features affects your child and the kind of help he needs to develop in each of these areas. Adults need to work together and make a plan to help the teen learn new skills, make progress in all areas of development, and manage new demands specific to high school, and the preparation necessary to move on to the next phase of life.


1. Lesson Topic: Behavior

BFF firmly believes when dealing with Behavior there is no magic formula that will work in all situations. It’s helpful to understand the kinds of issues that impact a child’s behavior. In our Behavior lessons, children will understand these issues and know what to expect at different developmental stages, their reactions will be wiser and it will be easier to create an environment that supports and nurtures your child. BFF’s goal is to help children learn how to care for themselves, and give children doable tasks and be supportive when children experience failure as well as success. This also will give children real and meaningful work to do, which will help young children learn to be good citizens and have high hopes for our children.

2. Lesson Topic: Family Support

BFF believes we are all part of a family. Young adulthood refers to people in their late teens, twenties, and thirties, single, married, divorced, or widowed; and with or without children. As In this Family lesson, they will learn that there are different kinds of families and no one structure is better than another. They discover that all types of families love and care for each other. The children will discuss their family structures. They will become familiar with the family diversity of their peers and others in the world and learn about family habits, history, and values.

3. Lesson Topic: Friendships & Dating

BFF believes that for many, raising a teenager is the most intimidating chapter of parenthood. Discipline becomes increasingly difficult and may feel impossible to maintain. It’s tough to know when to set rules and when to give freedom, when to bend and when to stand firm, when to intervene and when to let live. This Teen Dating lesson will discuss  crucial aspects of relationships before he or she enters into a relationship. BFF will teach teens the importance of dating, how to have respect for one another and protecting themselves from emotional and physical hurt.

4. Lesson Topic: Self Sufficiently

BFF believes that teaching your children Self-Sufficiency enables them to develop the skills necessary to survive in an unpredictable world. Children who have a sense of independence and Self-Sufficiency are more likely to handle the challenges of growing up, are more likely to perform better at school and in other areas of life, and they are likely to grow into successful adults. In Self Sufficiently lesson, teaching your child to be Self-Sufficient and instilling in them a sense of personal responsibility are two of the most difficult challenges of parenting. What’s happening too often is that our kids have no idea how to self-manage. In some extreme cases, completely normal, competent children are reluctant to do for themselves things that are age-appropriate, such as sleeping alone, solving problems with their friends, and the big one, doing their homework without parental aid.

5. Lesson Topic: Time Management Skills

BFF believes that Time management for teenagers matters. They have more demands on their time and attention now than ever before. Phones, friends, websites and worriers and they all need to be managed. Time management has a number of benefits for them and you… Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter not harder so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high. Failing to manage your time damages your effectiveness and causes stress. This Time Management skills lesson plan will cover Life changing habits and skills for life are learned at an early age, they study, work, rest and play more effectively. BFF will help everyone in the house feels less stress, calmer and a better sense of balance. There is more time for relationships to develop and deepen and they are more independent… giving you more time.

6. Lesson Topic: Social Skills

BFF believes that there is no question that children with better Social Skills have a significant advantage in life. They not only experience the rewards of positive relationships, but they do better in school, have a better self-image, and in general, are much more resilient as they face life’s inevitable challenges. The category of Social Skills can also be expanded to facets of self-control such as appropriate behavior. For many children, Social Skills are learned by observing how others in their environment handle social situations. Our Social Skills lesson will teach children how to imitate desirable responses such as turn taking because little thought is given to how the young child became so adept at playing board games, cards, or other activities that require a child to wait for others.

7. Lesson Topic: Academics & College

BFF believes in building a Path to Academic Success. While there is no single academic path we expect all students to follow, we want to help your child make choices that will lead them to a successful college career.  In this Academics/College lesson, we will prepare for college is a goal that you need to work towards. It’s vital that you take an active role during this process, to ensure that you succeed! College life presents a number of new challenges for the high school graduate becoming a new college freshman. Not only will you be living on your own for the first time, in most cases, but you also will be responsible for managing your own time and finances.  At the same time, college entrance is not always a step-by-step process and students must determine the steps they need to take as they go. BFF is here to help your child with this progress.

8. Lesson Topic: Bullying

Our Bullying lesson will help children understand the extent, seriousness, and dynamics of Bullying. Children will be able to recognize and respond early and effectively to behaviors that can lead to bullying along with learn about new effective strategies for controlling bullying. This will prepare your child to recognize and respond effectively to early Bullying behavior. BFF will empower your child to actively intervene to prevent and stop Bullying.

9. Lesson Topic: Responsibility

BFF firmly believes that Responsibility is a value children learn from their parents, schools, peers, and society. It is a lifelong skill that helps children be successful throughout life. Children grow into responsible adults when they are taught and guided to act responsibly. Teaching children Responsibility can begin when they are young. In this Responsibility lesson, BFF will find ways to teach children a sense of Responsibility is one of the best characteristics you can develop in your child. Responsibility is a lifelong skill that you can teach to your young children, beginning now! Your child can become better armed at making decisions, learn control and grow as you want them to, as a person who does tasks without whining or constant direction.

10. Lesson Topic: Wellness & Nutrition

BFF believes healthy eating and physical activity habits are important for your child’s wellbeing. The purpose of Wellness and Nutrition is to enhance opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for children by implementing strong and comprehensive eating and wellness activities for our children.  This lesson includes goals for nutrition education and promotion, physical activity, and other home-based activities that promote children wellness. This lesson provides positive messages that help children develop healthy eating and physical activity habits. It also provides an opportunity to practice these healthy habits. Our Health and Wellness lesson includes the opportunity to make personal choices from healthy food options in the school, dining area and throughout the school, the opportunity to eat in pleasant and comfortable surroundings, and the opportunity for physical activity that is fun. By providing these messages and opportunities, lifestyle choices are being taught in different environments.

11. Lesson Topic: Vocational & Job Training

BFF knows that finding a job can be a challenge for youth. They must determine what careers are available, what their interests are, and what skills they have or need to develop. Numerous resources are available to help youth get a sense of their interest and skills as well as gain employment experience and learn about employment opportunities. This Vocational/Job training lesson will focus on a type of instrumental or topic-focused mentoring, can take a variety of forms and may focus on different pieces of career development and employment. Some examples include assisting with the following: writing resumes and cover letters, conducting mock interviews and providing support for answering interview questions, exploring possible careers and assisting with job, internship, or program searches, developing on-the-job skills (soft skills or technical skills), modeling behavior, attitudes, or skills in the workplace (job-shadowing), and career planning and goal setting.

12. Lesson Topic: Teen Drugs & Alcohol

Our Teen drugs & alcohol lesson is designed to provide pre-teens and young teens with the facts about what alcohol is, how it affects the brain and body, and how it can lead to risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence. Students will learn about binge drinking and will explore the body’s reaction to alcohol abuse over a long period of time. The influence of peer pressure and the media will be discussed, along with strategies for making healthy choices.

13. Lesson Topic: Sexual Health

BFF believes in being an essential role in promoting the sexual health of teens and addressing the sexual health of teens in a positive, affirming, and healthy way. This Sexual Health lesson will go over the stages of sexual development, contraception, and emergency contraception and encourage them to talk about their experiences or ask questions. These are important decisions and are worth talking about with your Therapist and adults who care about you, including your doctor.

14. Lesson Topic: Social Media

BFF believes it is important for us to be proactive about internet safety. Kids are making new friends and adding those friends on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Unfortunately, there are people who can use your child’s personal information to steal identities, bully them or begin an inappropriate relationship. This social media lesson will help protect students from online dangers. There are plenty of good things about social media, but also many potential dangers and things that you want your kids and teens to avoid. Kids don’t always make the smartest choices when they post something to a site like Facebook or YouTube, and sometimes this can lead to problems. So this Social Media lesson will teach children how to use social media wisely.

15. Lesson Topic: Leisure Education

Our Leisure Education Lesson is designed to prepare children for optimum independent participation in appropriate leisure activities, including teaching the social skills necessary to engage in leisure activities and developing awareness of personal and community leisure resources. This lesson will include, Leisure Awareness, Leisure Resources, Leisure Communication Skills and Leisure Planning.

16. Lesson Topic: Problem Solving

BFF believes that Problem Solving in children is a critical survival skill. Problem Solving skills are necessary to resolve conflicts that arise on almost every day. In our Problem Solving lesson, children will learn that Problem Solving skills are necessary to solve children’s own problems, which eventually will assist them to build self-composure, as well as self-esteem and self-confidence. Problem Solving skills assist children solve their own problems, big or small, with a sense of immense confidence. Whether your children are already attending their school today or whether they are still at home, teaching Problem Solving skills will help them develop a dynamic personality and smart mind. When your children know to how to solve problems, they can flourish very well in their classroom by scoring better grades and marks. Furthermore, problem solving skills also help your children confront any type of problems or obstacles that they come across in the society.

17. Lesson Topic: Perspective Taking

BFF believes the common misconception is that life skills are picked up by children as they go through life. Although this may be the case for some life skills, sometimes it is necessary for us to take specific measures to ensure that our children learn these skills and learn them well. For instance, children generally develop Perspective Taking as they grow older but some children are better at it than others. In this Perspective Taking lesson, in a nutshell, it is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what they are thinking and feeling. Individuals who are adept at Perspective Taking are capable of correctly interpreting what others are thinking, and what they mean from what they say and do. There are numerous benefits of Perspective Taking.

Parents be aware

A very important thing to know. Once a child is 18 years old, parents no longer have educational rights in the IEP process. Parents are still part of the IEP team, but they no longer have the legal right to make decision. Educational rights for decision making transfer to the student at age 18, who legally becomes an adult. Students agree to and sign their own IEPs, even if the student is severely impacted by their autism.

The transfer of rights occurs automatically at the age of 18, because the 18th birthday changes a student’s legal status from a child to an adult. This is called the Transfer of Rights for students at age 18, the Age of Majority. It is the student who represents himself at the IEP or ITP meeting. The student signs whether or not he or she agrees with the IEP or ITP goals and services, not the parents. Parents have NO parental rights in the IEP unless other arrangements are made.

As we know, autism is a developmental disability, and just because the calendar says that someone is an adult, does not mean that the person is ready to make educational and life decisions alone. You can ask your child to share their educational rights with you, by providing a written document to the district at the eighteenth birthday. It can be wise to start this process years before the 18th birthday! Preparation for this step may involve some frank discussions, development of self-awareness, and coaching!

Parents can draw up a document that their child can sign to share their educational rights with their parents. If this is a good option for you and your child, be sure to provide the signed and dated document to the school or district on the child’s 18th birthday. That way parents have the right to stay actively involved in decision making.

If parent/child teams do not have a letter stating that educational rights will be shared, the child alone will be in charge of his educational plan. One example of a potential difficulty is a when child who is in charge of his/her educational rights decides to drop out of school, the parents have no right to disagree or prevent it.

NOTE: Besides educational rights, other parental rights end at age 18, as the young person legally becomes an adult. This is one more reason to plan ahead for things like medical decisions, etc. If that age has already passed, don’t panic. We will explain different options and ideas to take into consideration in different topics on this website, particularly in the section on Adults.

This group will address the transition into young adulthood, and will focus on developing members’ abilities to independently access, identify, and exhibit socially appropriate behaviors across contexts, as well as strengthening social awareness and the ability to interpret social cues.