Post High School Programs & Advisors

Parent Q&A

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  • My son is a senior in HS and just turning 18 soon. He has very little skills for independent living. Yes that is my fault, although I have tried a lot over the years. He has a pretty bad case of ADHD and was dx on the spectrum and he seems to live in a constant state of confusion and chaos. In addition, he was late in all self-care items, he strenuously resisted potty training (not accomplished until 6 - yes he was boarder line special needs and we lived overseers where school didn't start until age 6), or dressing self, and even now showering is a fight to get that done 2x a week but usually just 1x. If you have a typical kid, this may be difficult for you to understand. On the other hand, he has good friends, and a nice girlfriend so he's doing great compared to what we first thought his life might be like when he was younger and had much more severe language and stim issues.

    I am beginning to worry about his lack of life skills. Even the most basic things such as to shut our house front door when he comes home, he forgets, he has left the door wide open many times (we live in an area this could be dangerous) and i only notice when I feel a breeze or hear loud outside sounds. Sometimes it has been open like that for over an hour. When he leaves the house when I'm not home, he rarely remembers to lock the door, the lights and TV are on. When he cooks a snack, he leaves the burners on (so he's not safe) and has no concept of how to clean as you go etc or do his laundry, to manage money etc.

    Since he was young, I have tried showing him how to do these things and tried to make them fun but nothing registers. The problem is that it has now become a source of conflict with us and we already have a lot of conflict over getting him to do his homework etc.

    I was thinking some sort of camp or program for kids like this. Maybe not this year, but he can take next year off before college. He actually went to a pretty rigorous outdoor challenge camp this summer, and thrived, but what we need is more mundane daily living stuff. I have pushed really hard in the past to force him to be more responsible but it really creates bad feelings and we already have difficulties so I thought for both our sanity, maybe there is something else out there. Yes I guess I'd like to outsource this problem and it needs to be something organized enough to actually instill new habits.

    Does anyone know of a camp or live-in program like this? Or have other ideas? Again if you have a more typical kid, you won't understand this type of kid. I find it very hard too as I had huge family responsibilities starting at age 9 and didn't see that as a big deal. I'm afraid he'll end up being on of those kids living in our basement at 27 or he'll burn the house down. A failure-to-launch kid in the making for sure.

    Hi, I have a child who has some of these challenges. They are currently meeting with a coach from Classroom Matters twice a week to work on executive functioning skills. Although it's not quick, we are seeing significant improvement. Classroom Matters seems willing to work on more than just classroom skills.

    Hello dear mom.  I'm sorry about this situation for you --- and for your son.  Have you ever had him evaluated by the Regional Center?  I have a disabled
    adult son--disabled from birth. Intellectual impairment, PTSD, OCD, seizures--as well as bipolar.  I know about the Regional Center in Texas (for when he was

    in need) by contrast, the one here is outstanding (from what I read & others report). From what you've told us, I would say this is a situation greater than 'failure

    to thrive." All the best.

    I so relate to this. My kid, also 18, has ADHD. They have graduated from high school. They chose not to go to college, and they have a part-time job, but the basic skills such as remembering the house key, closing the door,, making the bed, and planning transportation needs are still a struggle. When I bring up questions About future plans, my child shuts down completely. Walks away. Doesn’t want to talk. So, I am very interested to hear the replies to your question. You are not alone.

    You have gotten some good responses. Your child is neurodiverse, ASD in particular is considered a disability. I have a late dxd child with ASD and I have learned that I can't really compare a young adult with ASD with myself or a neurotypical person their age. They tend to have very uneven development. My son is great academically but does not drive or do some other things independently. I agree that the regional center could be helpful and/or executive skills coaching. There is a google group that also meets on zoom and the next one is about helping young adults gain independence. The group is asnld-parent-support search for it on google groups and you will find a wealth of information! It really takes a shift in mindset as a parent but there is support out there. It's not your fault at all! Feel free to reach out if you think I can be of help to you. I have gotten lots of help from other parents of ASD teens and am happy to pass it along. 

    Hello.  Don't blame yourself!   Kids are all so different and getting some of them safely through life is a huge accomplishment.   You're wise not to not inject too much conflict into your relationship. 

    My daughter is in her last year of high school .  Some of her issues are similar and some very different, but she is similarly unprepared.  Her school is going to be providing me with some recommendations for programs that might help.  I can send them along to you if you PM me.

    Hi, your post made me think of this program:

    I do not have personal experience with it however 2 of the directors came from a therapeutic boarding school our son was at for 2 years. (Cherry Gulch outside of Boise) and we greatly admire and respect both.  Check it out and good luck to you and your son.

    Hi there,

    similar situation in my house. Son; 19 yo,  ASD, DD, lacks executive functioning skills. He’s out of high school and has job. But …. I’m constantly working with him on skills and personal hygiene. He’s able to do many household chores, with prodding. Does laundry mostly so he care ware his favorite clothes, dishes 4 times a week. But forget money management or any type of form/paperwork for job or life. That is my biggest concern; always having to fill out forms, applications, follow up on “life” matters. He’ll do it with me near and coaching. 

    I finally let go of stressing about done things (dirty room, clothes on chair, papers everywhere) and focus first on those skills so he can achieve at home. ( I did go in this weekend yo do a semi deep clean but touched nothing personal.)  You might want to start small with him doing dishes or vacuuming. And pay him for this. Add more chores once’s he’s doing this on a regular basis.

    Put a checklist on the front door so before he leaves he’s reminded of what he needs (ID, keys, etc) and to lock the door. Or install a keypad lock if you don’t have to enter  a code to lock it.  Have a place by front door for keys and face masks. 

    An executive function coach could help. Let him say what he feels he needs help on and you share what you think he needs. Then create a curriculum He will commit to. And it might take more than a year so you might need to rethink college and/or his moving out. Dorms are full of students who have no abilities to do basic chores. So a dirty room is nothing but not bathing, locking his door or spending money they don’t have or being scammed is real. And he’ll become a target. Don’t want that to happen to him. 

    if you want a place for him to attend, Meristem near Sacramento is for young adults on the spectrum. They have day and boarding students. It’s expensive but the regional center will pay a decent portion of the fees. I’m considering it for my young adult. 

    Good luck and I hope you both can come together. He has abilities that need to be drawn out more. Having ASD, ADHD and DD can be a daunting but  keep working on small successes.

    Mom working on launching her son. 



    Star Academy in Marin has this kind of program. I don't have personal experience with it or Star Academy, but I've heard wonderful things.

    You could check this out:     For people with ADHD, with a focus on entrepreneur stuff (which is a talent of some ADHD people).  They paired our friend's kid up with another young man in an apartment, and they had to learn to sweep the floor and shop for groceries etc.  Unfortunately, Covid cut it short. 

    Maybe an ADHD coach could help.  Someone over the years told my son to use the Reminders feature on his iPhone, and he does use that.  Once I told my son to turn off the oven when the timer buzzes.  I came home to a burnt-to-a-crisp dinner--he told me he heard the buzzer and knew he was supposed to do something, but he forgot what.  Now he is at college and he does his laundry.  The dorm has security keys and self-closing doors.  He still doesn't cook.  He is trying to be organized, and he took only a small amount of clothes with him so it couldn't turn into a mountain of dirty clothes.  It was very hard to see the chaos, but good to see the improvement over the years.  Your son has you and his friends and that is a blessing!  I wish you both the best!  

  • My 16 year old son has ADHD and Learning Disabilities.  Academics have always been hard for him.  He has an IEP and is getting through high school, but not thriving. Traditional academics are not his thing (at least not right now).  He'll likely graduate with a modified diploma. He is bright and has many strengths, but will not have the pre-requisite classes to attend a 4 year college, and will also likely not be ready academically to handle that kind of environment.  Even community college may be an academic stretch, although a program with strong disability services might be okay. 

    His passion/dream is to be a pilot. This is likely not possible because of his ADHD (he currently needs medication to function at school and this is a rule out for pilot license).  He knows this and is open to another aviation career/job, but doesn't have a lot of ideas.  His high school is full of college bound high achieving students, and school counselors are not as focused on other post high school opportunities.  I would love to find a counselor to work with him on-line who understands teens who are not strong academically, but have other talents, and someone who really knows what other options are out there.  I'd like him to have help exploring the post high school options that might be the best fit for him, and someone to walk him through the steps that are necessary to help him get to whatever post high school goal he comes up with. He might be a good candidate for some kind of technical program in aviation, for an apprenticeship program, for community college, for a gap year work or program to gain independence and confidence, for getting a job and learning how to manage a budget and begin to live independently.  I don't know what all the options are, and I think that these conversations would also work better between my son and an objective adult.  

    I am not pushing any agenda for him, except to gradually build some kind of plan over the next 2 years, so that he'd got something to do when he graduates that he feels is meaningful. 

    Do you have an on-line counselor recommendation for non-traditional career/academic guidance.  I'm not looking for a life-coach person--the issues are not a lack of motivation, but lack of ideas for what options are out there that would be a good fit.   Thanks so much! 

    What about fire fighter or police academy? It makes sense to me (mom of ADHD boy who luckily is a talented athlete good enough to play in college) that your son would be attracted to what sounds like an exciting career- flying an airplane! Boys like ours want to be stimulated- ER doc, pilot etc. I’m not sure but I think you might not need a 4 yr degree to be a fire fighter or EMT, or paramedic? All exciting jobs and doing good in the world!

    good luck!

    One of the post-high school ideas suggested to my ADHD son by a science teacher is the aviation maintenance technician course that's offered at Alameda Community College: The coursework can be transferred to a 4 year university and graduates can also work in other fields such as BART, elevators, etc. It looks like a great program, and since there's some hands on coursework it's not all lectures.

    My son was in a similar boat with ADHD and traditional high school was not being a good fit despite no learning disabilities and high intelligence. He was floundering. You don't mention what school district you're in, but we were in Albany which is very academic and college driven. So much so that a counselor told me she'd often hear kids bragging they aced exams when she knew they were failing. I was shocked to learn that there was a significant amount of kids going on to community college. So sometimes all hyper focus on college isn't the reality and the kids not going a 4 year college route are in the shadows.  One of the best things that happened to my son was getting placed in their alternative/credit recovery program which has small class sizes (I think most he ever had was 10 kids in a class), are interactive and there is less homework. They did field trips to visit community colleges. There was also a dedicated counselor for the program so there's a lot more personalized attention and support, and and he could text his teachers and counselors any time. He went to failing grades to flourishing in the program and regained an interest in learning. If there's an option like that in your school district I encourage you to look in to it. 

  • Our HS senior is clear he does not want to go to college next year, or perhaps any time soon, which is fine with us. At the same time, he does benefit from structure - which could mean anything from a job or internship to a gap-year program. Can you recommend counselors who help seniors like him think through their alternatives, or specific programs that our son (interested in fashion design, social justice, and biking) might be interested in?

    I would probably reach out to any number of college counselors listed on this site for direction, even if you feel he might not be interested in college 'any time soon,' as they may have valuable information for you. For example, I recently was on a school zoom where a counselor suggested that if you are graduating HS and wanting to wait to apply to colleges, it can work against you to take some courses in the meantime - then you would need to apply as a transfer as opposed to a freshman, which was interesting and helpful advice. A full-time job at a nonprofit or internship would provide plenty of structure and hopefully inspire college entry- if they are interested in social justice there are PLENTY of non-profits locally, they could work with, or they could look for a job at a bike shop or clothing retailer. Wishing him (and you) well!

  • Post high school transitions program?

    (1 reply)


    can anyone recommend a top notch post high school transitions program in the Bay Area? I’m Looking at either public or private. We are in the Acalanes school district and expect to go to DelValle, but are open to other options. Even ones out of state. However, my child will be graduating with a certificate of completion, not a high school diploma. I am not looking for a college transition program.However, being able to take a community college course would be a plus to keep active with typical students.

    thank you.

    Hi there,

     I've begun looking for programs for my son and was provided with the names of the schools below.  I believe that these program focus on young adults/high school graduates (diploma or certificates) with learning differences or special needs. I've looked into a couple of them and some are more college "readiness" programs while others are more focused on guiding the person to oa career/vocational path and in helping the young adult learn to  live on their own ( or with roommates).  I do know that CLE in Monterey has both "tracks"; college readiness (including attending classes at the local Community College) or career/technical/vocational. 

    • College Learning Experience (CLE) in Monterey.
    • Star Academy in Marin in partnership with the College of Marin. It is located at the College of Marin's campus (when in-person learning resumes). 
    • Taft College in Southern California.
    • Wayfinders at Fresno State
    • New Directions in Pleasant Hill

    Good luck with finding a good "match/fit" for your student.