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Look Inside Young Adult Road Map

Introduction At age 18

Introduction At age 18 in our society, everything changes. You have more responsibilities, but you also have more choices. You have the power to make your own decisions and speak for yourself, in your own voice. Your Transition Job Description The period between age 14 and 26 (sometimes up to age 30) is often called “Transition to Adulthood” or “Emerging Adulthood” because becoming an adult is a process. No one wakes up one day as an adult. You grow into adulthood at your own pace. In a perfect (and perfectly boring) TV movie, everybody gets a driver’s license, goes to prom, ships off to college, and scores a great job on schedule. However, the reality is we all have our own transition timelines. That’s OK. It’s YOUR life. In childhood, other people had legal responsibility for making decisions that affected you. Your choices were limited. Other people spoke for you. At age 18 in our society, everything changes. You have more responsibilities, but you also have more choices. You have the power to make your own decisions and speak for yourself, in your own voice. Your #1 Transition Job Description is to learn and do what you need to live the life you want— right now, a few years down the road, and in the more distant future. That means asking questions and learning strategies for getting the help you need. 6

Step-By-Step Strategies for Navigating Systems To build the life you want, you need support to reach goals and solve problems. That support usually comes from services provided by organized systems. Some people talk about “The System” as something that is unfair or doesn’t meet their needs (which may be true in some cases). However, the term system used in this Guide refers to any one of the organizations and agencies that provide a service to youth or young adults. This could be a mental health center, a hospital, a walk-in clinic in a neighborhood drug store, or a housing benefits office. It could be an insurance company you call on the phone. It could be the court system or a rehab program. It could be a college or training school. Finding services in this world is called navigating systems. Like countries, each of these systems has its own language, rules, and procedures. If you have already received services for a while, somebody navigated systems for you. To live an independent life, you must navigate certain systems by yourself. However, finding your own way can feel very frustrating. That’s why you need a road map. It lets you focus on taking one step at a time, and gives you strategies for getting where you need to go. Young Adult Road Map is a step-by-step guide to navigating systems, whether you are an older teen approaching legal adulthood or someone moving through your twenties. The Guiding Star for Navigating Systems As you move through systems looking for services, the journey can be confusing. The Guiding Star can help you stay on the right road. The five points of the Guiding Star are five tasks that will keep you on the path to help no matter what system you enter. This Guide can help you sort through all the confusion and chunk up a big job into smaller jobs you can handle. This Guide is organized into simple, step-by-strategies that use all five points of the Guiding Star. 1. SET GOALS. Decide what to look for based on your strengths and concerns. What do you already have and what do you need right now to take the next steps? Life is simpler when everyone who can support you understands your priorities. 2. LEARN SYSTEM BASICS. Get to know key words, procedures, and provider roles so you understand what choices you have, where to find services, and how to get those services. 3. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Communicate your priorities clearly. Show you expect to be included in all decisions as a full partner. Find people who can help you meet goals and solve problems. 4. MANAGE INFORMATION. Keep good records. Track and report your progress so medical providers and others can understand how you are doing. Insist on clear explanations of any evaluations or reports that are used to make decisions about you. 5. FIND SUPPORT. Create a network of people and resources that can help you stay safe and cope with challenges along your journey. Parts of the Picture When you picture how you want to live as an independent adult, it helps to think about the “focus areas” of everyday living. These might include: l Employment: Satisfying work (and whatever education/training it takes to get that work) l Housing: A safe and comfortable place to live l Transportation: Reliable, affordable ways to get around l Community: Friends, loved ones, and people or organizations to support you when you need it l Health: Good insurance, the right providers (doctors, dentists, therapists), a wellness plan, knowledge about how and where to get services in your area l Purpose: Things that give your life meaning and fulfillment. For some people, this can include pursuing creative arts (such as poetry or dance), practicing a religious faith, working for a cause, or doing service for others. 7