This page covers transportation options for older children and young adults with disabilities and special health care needs, including driving and more. Transportation means getting from one place to another. It can also mean more independence for your child as they transition to adulthood.
Your child’s transportation choices depend on:
Check out our page on Medicaid medical transportation, too.
Here are some ways that your child might be able to get around:
As you and your child are choosing which type of transportation to use, here are some people and places that might be able to help:
As your child becomes a teenager or adult, they might want to learn how to drive a car on their own, if they are able. It can be both exciting and scary. You want to make sure that they’re as safe as possible.
Driver’s education programs teach people to drive and get a driver’s license. Some have a cost. Driver’s education programs can be run by:
Before using a driving school or program, meet with the teacher first to talk about their experience and your child’s needs.
Once your child is ready to take their driver’s license test, it is possible to ask for accommodations, including extra help. Accommodations might be extra time for the test, a private room, having the test questions read out loud, breaks and more. Use this form from the Texas Department of Public Safety to ask for accommodations.
If your child has communication challenges,—such as a hearing impairment, brain injury or autism—Texas Department of Public Safety has an option to help with traffic stops. It is a way to help police officers better understand your child.
You can ask that they put a code, similar to a private note, on your child’s driver’s license that says they have a communication impediment. You can also ask for this code to appear when your child’s car’s license plates are run before an officer ever approaches the vehicle.
Applying for this code is a choice. It is up to you and your child.
To create a safe and comfortable car, truck or van for your child to drive or ride in, you might need to modify it. Where do you start with vehicle modifications? This brochure by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more information to help you make a plan.
Modifications can be expensive. Some families do them a little bit at a time, so they don’t have to pay all at once. There are places that help with modification costs. See our Funding and Grants page for a list to get you started. Medicaid Waiver programs might also cover some of the costs, but usually not all.
For a story about how one family made modifications, see our blog article, “Learning to Travel By Car With a Wheelchair.”
Your child may also be able to use public transportation, such as buses and trains. Most city buses and many trains, for example, have a wheelchair lift and special seating for people with disabilities or special health care needs. Fares sometimes cost less for people with disabilities or special health care needs.
It’s a good idea to call the public transportation agency in your area or visit their website to check on the options. They usually ask for proof of your child’s disability to approve a reduced fare card.
Find out about public transportation in your area using the Texas Department of Transportation’s public transportation locator. If you are in a rural area, there might be limited or no public transportation.
Texas Workforce Commission and many school districts have hands-on training for older children to learn how to use the bus system or learn about public transportation in their communities.
Your child has the right to use public transportation. Read more about their rights in the Transportation section of the Americans with Disabilities Act National Network Disability Law Handbook
Paratransit is simply a type of public transportation designed for people with disabilities or special health care needs.
These vans are sometimes run by private companies or the city. Each has its own rules on who can ride. They can pick up your older child at home and take them where they need to go. You or your child will need to call and set up a pickup time. Sometimes, you will have to wait awhile for the ride. If you or an attendant is planning to ride with your child, you will probably have to pay for two passengers. (In some cities, a one-way ticket is just $1.)
Learn more about paratransit in this excellent article from Disability Rights Texas.
To find out if there is paratransit in your area, search online for words such as “paratransit.” Or you can connect with other parents and ask them.
There are other ways for your child to get where they need to go:
As your child finds ways to get around, they can gain more independence and build their confidence.
Independent Living Services (Texas HHSC) might be able to help your child with their transportation options.
My Child has an article on driving for people with disabilities.
DisabilityInfo.Org has an article on: travel tips for people with disabilities.
Our blog has good articles, such as: