Becoming an adult: your child with disability, autism and additional needs
Leaving school and becoming an adult are big changes for your child with disability, autism and additional needs. This means the transition to adulthood needs careful planning.
It’s a good idea to start planning early in the secondary school years. This will give you plenty of time to work on the skills your child needs to achieve their goals for adulthood. It will also give you time to find out about the supports your child will need, depending on what your child wants to do.
Creating a transition plan for adulthood for your child with additional needs
Creating a transition plan is a good way to prepare your child with additional needs for adulthood.
When you’re developing your child’s transition plan, you’ll need to think about your child’s:
- short-term and long-term goals for the future
- strengths, abilities, skills and interests and how to develop and support them
- needs and how to make sure these needs are met.
It’s useful to start by writing down your child’s current skills and abilities. You can compare these with the skills and abilities that your child needs to meet their goals. This can help you decide which skills your child needs to learn, practise or improve on and where your child might need support.
You can gather information to create a well-rounded and thorough plan by talking with and including input from people who are significant to your child. These people might include teachers, support staff, therapists, siblings, relatives and friends.
Each child’s transition plan will be different, but all transition plans should cover:
- independent living
- social interaction and community involvement.
Further education in the transition plan
If your child is in Year 8 or above and your child's school hasn’t started developing a transition plan with you, talk to your child’s teacher about starting the process. As part of the transition plan, the school will look at your child’s goals and interests. This will help your child choose what subjects to study.
If your child is interested in further education, your child's options might include university, TAFE or vocational education and training.
If your child wants to go to university, the Australian Government helps university students with disability through the Higher Education Disability Support Program. It’s also important to talk to individual training providers, TAFEs and universities about their disability services.
And in all further education institutions, your child with additional needs has the same education rights as other students. This means that the further education provider must make reasonable adjustments to make sure your child has the same opportunities as other students to take part in the provider’s programs. Your child’s transition plan should include any adjustments that they need.
Work in the transition plan
If your child wants to get a job, you could consider what sorts of jobs might suit your child’s interests and abilities and how your child could use their strengths in the workforce. For example, if your child loves animals and is good with them, your child might be able to get a job as a veterinary assistant or dog walker.
Many schools work in partnership with the vocational education and training sector and registered training organisations to organise work experience, traineeships or apprenticeships.
Independent living in the transition plan
Young people with additional needs can live independently in different ways. For example, they might be able to live a fully independent life, live in a group home, or live in supported accommodation.
Your child’s transition plan should include your child’s goals for independent living. It should also cover the skills your child needs to live independently. These might include self-care skills, like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping, managing their time, using public transport, and managing finances.
Social interaction and community involvement in the transition plan
Your child’s transition plan should include ideas for keeping friendships going, meeting new people and taking part in social and community activities like going to the cinema or exercise classes. These sorts of activities can help young adults feel connected to their local communities.
Your child might be keen to carry on with social, recreational or community activities that they enjoy at school. Your child might also be keen to try something new.
As part of your planning, it’s a good idea to look into services for adults with additional needs in your area. There might be services that help with routine activities, like grocery shopping, or groups that organise social outings, like going to see a movie with other adults.
Reviewing and monitoring your child’s transition plan
Your child’s goals might change, or they might learn skills more quickly or more slowly than you expected. This is why it’s important to regularly review your child’s transition plan. You might do this every six months in secondary school, and more often shortly before and after the transition.
An important part of reviewing the plan is talking with school staff and other professionals involved in your child’s care to see how your child is going. For example, are there areas that your child is going really well in? Is your child struggling in any areas? This will help you think about how you might need to adjust the goals and strategies in your child’s plan.
Involving your child in the review process is a good idea. Talking with your child about their plan will help you understand how your child thinks they’re going, whether your child’s goals have changed, and what supports your child thinks they might need.
Funding support for your child’s transition to adulthood
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a national system that funds support services for children and adults with permanent and significant disability.
If your child is an NDIS participant, you’ll work with an NDIA planner or an NDIS local area coordination partner to develop an NDIS plan for your child. As part of this, you’ll look at how the NDIS can support your child's short-term and long-term goals for becoming a young adult.
There’s likely to be a lot of overlap between your child’s NDIS plan and transition plan.
The NDIS can provide funding for supports to help your child meet their goals. This might include:
- support to learn independent living skills, like money and household management
- support for daily living activities, like getting dressed and showering
- transport so that your child can take part in community or social activities
- help at home with tasks like laundry and cleaning
- home modifications.