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Friends, fun & networking (interview with Doreen Fulton of IEP for Mom)

by Mary Mazzoni on June 14, 2012

For most teens, school is the hub of recreation and social life. But, then – what happens when our kids graduate?

Without intentional planning, young adults may find themselves feeling isolated and disconnected from people and activities they enjoy. That’s no way to live!

Typically, I’m asked to speak about transition planning for employment or postsecondary education. These are important aspects of our kids’ lives. But – what’s life without friends and fun? B-o-r-i-n-g! And, too often, lonely.

So, when Doreen Fulton asked if she could interview me about ways young adults can grow their social networks and leisure options beyond high school, I responded with a resounding “Yes!”.

Doreen offers wonderful resources and support for families at her two websites: IEP for Mom and  Believe in a Ray of Hope.

Just last week, her son graduated from high school. So now, the Fulton family is officially living life after IEPs!

During our interview, Doreen asked about ways young adults can discern what’s most important to them, grow personal networks, and map out opportunities in their community.

You can download an mp3 recording of our interview here: Relationships, Recreation & Personal Networking Interview.

Or, you can replay the 45 minute interview directly on Doreen’s site (and learn a bit about her son’s journey) here.

When to begin?

Ideally, the networking strategies we discuss in this interview begin while our kids are still in school. This way, when they graduate, they already have fulfilling connections separate from their school experience. But even if your child has already graduated, s/he can begin using these networking strategies now to develop life enriching relationships.

Networking is incremental and ongoing. Beginning with a good sense of who we are and what’s most important to us, we begin to explore connections with others who share our interests. The strategies in the interview can help your child build networks, beginning now and continuing throughout adult life.

Resources

During the interview, we discuss ways to use the following resources (click for free download):

Exploring personal interests:

Toolkits by Youth for Youth (the Health & Wellness toolkit addresses relationships and recreation)

Personal Preference Portfolios (especially for youth with communication support needs)

Self Discovery through Art  (Videos coming later this summer to Life After IEPs)

Developing mentor relationships

A Maze of Agencies: Where to Start? (learn about CILs, where your child can find FREE peer mentoring, as well as information and referral services).

Volunteering

Volunteering: Why & How (at the end of this post, learn practical ways kids can find volunteer opportunities that are genuinely meaningful to them and lead to relationships with others who share similar interests.)

Parent survey

At the end of our interview. we talk about our Parent Survey and the prize drawing on June 30. Have you taken the survey yet? Great! If not, learn more about it here.

Your turn

What do you think about the strategies discussed in our interview? Have you and your child tried them? Do you have other suggestions to share? Please leave a comment below – so we can all benefit from your experiences, ideas and questions!

Have the interview and resource links been helpful? Please share this post with others. Thanks!

Hope you and your child are enjoying the journey – one day at a time!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Doreen Fulton June 15, 2012 at 7:08 am

It was such a joy to talk and connect with you Mary. I have received positive feedback on the info you shared and know that it will applied. Truly, you are impacting our lives in a wonderful way and I applaud you! D

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Mary Mazzoni June 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Doreen – I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and I’m delighted parents have found the information helpful.

You share wonderful resources at an IEP for Mom and Believe in a Ray of Hope! What a joy to get to know you! I look forward to new collaborations in the future!

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