Developing a Plan Hero

10 Tips to Support Your Child’s Transition to Adulthood

(adapted from -Ten tips that may help your child's transition to adulthood (pacer.org)

Your son or daughter is growing from a child to a young adult - exciting and terrifying at the same time! What will your son or daughter need to move from “here” to “there”? Parents of children with disabilities want to help their children achieve their dreams. This calls for early planning - ideally, start by age 14 – and the active involvement of your child as much as possible in the process. Here are some areas to think about:

  1. Cultivate Self-AdvocacyEncourage your child to participate in IEP/ISP meetings. Help your child communicate their strengths, preferences, interests, and needs. Consider helping them prepare a PowerPoint presentation or use a picture choice board. Explore resources at Self Advocacy - Michigan Alliance for Families and Critical Decision Points.
  2. Expand Social NetworksInvolve your child in church activities, attend camps, join a social group, or enroll in a sport. This helps develop engagement within their neighborhoods for future hobbies, recreation, and social opportunities.
  3. Build a work resume by starting with chores at home or tasks done for neighbors. Look for volunteer opportunities through social, church, and school organizations.
  4. Learn Soft Employment Skillspractice important communication and problem-solving skills at home. Ask your school about formal training (pre-employment training services) available through your state’s employment rehabilitation agency. Explore resources at LEO - Student Services (michigan.gov)Soft Skills to Pay the Bills | Youth.gov. (Vocational Rehabilitation Services by State)
  5. Practice Money Management Skills—Help your child open a bank account, have them use an ATM or debit card, and discuss how much it costs for rent, food, and other expenditures.
  6. Exploring Further EducationWhether your child is graduating with a diploma or receiving a certificate of completion, there are options available for further supported education after high school. Ask at your child’s IEP/ISP about what options are available. Schedule a visit with college disability services offices and bring your child’s IEP/ISP. Explore more resources at Preparing Students With Disabilities for College and https://thinkcollege.net/
  7. Consider Legal Planning—Not sure about your child’s ability to navigate health care and financial decisions at age 18? Consider meeting with a special needs attorney at Find an Attorney | Special Needs Alliance
  8. Connect With Adult Service ProvidersEstablish ties with adult service providers like Community Mental Health (Community Mental Health Association of Michigan) and Financial Advocacy (National Disability Institute).
  9. Assessing Independent Living Options—Not sure about your child’s ability to live independently? Explore future supported housing options through ILRU Directory of Centers for Independent Living.
  10. Embrace ChangeYour role is to ask questions, courageously invite new people into the process, be flexible, and advocate for your child’s needs.

As you plan and help define clear goals and dreams with your child, you will increase his or her chances of achieving those goals and dreams. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach! Be patient, celebrate progress, and focus on what makes your teen unique.

Laurie Kraus
Laurie Kraus
School Psychologist