Did you know that health care is a very important piece of planning for independence in adulthood? And that your child’s school can help prepare them? There are big changes that happen with doctors and medical care when your child becomes a legal adult. Doctors can’t talk to you without your child’s permission. Your child must find adult doctors, insurance changes and more.
Health care planning can be part of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and discussions so you, your child and their school can focus on it. If your child has a disability or special health care needs and gets special education services, this page has tips and ideas about medical transition from parents and other experts. We created it to help you work with your child and their school.
Schools help students get ready for their future. For children with disabilities, transition planning is part of the IEP. It should include goals after high school like college or other school after high school, living situations and work or career goals, depending on what your child wants and is able to do. Transition planning might also include goals about legal rights, money, friends and community support and health care.
The different pages on this website linked above and the terrific Texas Transition and Employment Guide can help you think about all these different areas of life with your child, their school and in the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) process in special education.
You may still think of your child as a “child,” but in the eyes of the legal and medical communities they are an adult at age 18. Over 85% of doctors don’t discuss health care transition with parents and families, according to a 2022 report from Texas Health and Human Services’ Policy Council for Children and Families. It takes thoughtful planning by you and your child to be sure their health care needs are met and to keep you involved if you need to be.
After years of a trusting relationship, do you know that your child’s pediatrician may not be able to talk to you after your child turns 18? It’s shocking when a doctor says they can’t see your child anymore or that your child needs to go to an adult doctor, especially with no warning. This is a huge change that most young adults are not prepared for. See our page on medical transition to learn about your legal choices.
This big change at age 18 is why we want you to know about this topic now, no matter how old your child is. That way, you can ask the right questions to doctors, think about how your child and family can get ready and see how your child’s school can help too. There are so many ways children with disabilities and special health care needs can practice and prepare for their adult health care. School is a place that can help, and a place where you and your child already spend so much time.
Ask your child’s case manager, ARD committee or a favorite staff member in your child’s school or district about your child’s transition planning.
There are many different ways students can work on health care transition goals at school. Got Transition has some sample goals for health care transition in the IEP.
Here are some examples of ways your child might work on goals at school:
To help you and your child figure out what goals to work on for their health care transition, there are questions you and your child can ask, starting in the ARD process. These come from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Texas Transition and Employment Guide.
There are also questions you and your child can ask their doctors. The answers can help you decide on IEP goals with your child and their school.
There are many ways to start health care transition planning. It’s never too early to start thinking about it. As one young adult told us, “Transition never really ends. There will always be something I need to figure out.” While your child still has the support of school, they have a place to learn about this important topic so they are ready to build independence as an adult.