As your child finds people they connect with, you can help them build and keep friendships. This might mean you are driving them to activities, dropping them off at a friend’s house, or going along. Or maybe you are asking your child about the friend, reminding them to stay in touch, or helping them figure out what to say to the other person. Learn more on our Friendships After High School page.
There are meaningful ways that your child can connect with others that match their abilities and interests. You can:
You can read more tips on our page about friendships after high school.
Know it’s okay to be afraid. If you’re stuck, even a baby step is an important progress. Many other parents have the same concerns and fears that you do. And then, begin looking for small actions and steps that will help you and your child plan ahead. See our Planning for a Time When You Can’t Care for Your Child for ideas on getting started.
As you and your child get older, chances are that someone else will need to be in charge of their care. Planning for this is often gut-wrenching and tests you on many levels. But if you don’t make those plans, someone else will have to figure it out without your wisdom and expertise. See our Planning for a Time When You Can’t Care for Your Child for ideas on getting started.
Many people say it’s never too early to start transition planning. For example, waivers that can help your child gain independence have long interest (waiting) lists, and it can take many years to get into these programs. If you haven’t already signed up, go to our Waivers page to find out more. It’s never too late to start transition planning. Whether your child is 4, 14, or 24 years old, you can start from where you are to make their adult life better. Visit our Planning for Transition page to see more timelines and tips.
Nothing brings the transition to adulthood to life like a personal story. Some parents we know have shared their own experiences in the hopes of helping you with yours.
Until the end of your child’s 17th year, you have legal control over all the major decisions in their life: housing, finances, school, health care, and even elements of everyday life. But, at 18 years old, your child gains legal control over all of these areas – and more. You might realize that your child isn’t going to be ready to manage all of these things on their own at age 18. A child with a disability or special health-care needs might never be able to manage some – or all – of these things. If this rings true for your child’s situation, you have choices that can help protect and support them. To find out more, visit our Legal Options for Age 18 and Beyond page.
Consider using legal tools like medical and financial powers of attorney so you have the legal right to oversee important areas of your child’s life without involving the court system. Consider getting partial guardianship so you can have control over certain areas of your child’s life. A court must approve this. Or consider getting full guardianship and gain control over every area of your child’s life. A court also grants this. Visit Legal Options for Age 18 and Beyond to learn more.
Guardianship gives you complete control over areas of your adult child’s life that they are not able to safely manage on their own. The court system grants and supervises guardianships.
If you decide that you want guardianship, it’s not an all-or-nothing process. There are two types of guardianship. Full guardianship gives you control and responsibility over every part of your child’s life. Partial, or limited, guardianship gives you control over only some areas clearly defined by the court. It could cover money, medical decisions, housing, voting, and if your adult child needs your permission to get married.
There are many choices that allow your adult child to have new independence while still getting support, including private housing, group homes, or even moving to a backyard apartment or remodeled suite on your property.
Find out more about choices on our Housing page.
Here are some questions other parents suggest you consider: How much money is safe for your child to manage? Are they ready to prepare and eat their own meals? Could your child handle signing a lease and paying rent on time? Could they take care of cleaning a house and doing laundry regularly? Are they capable of driving? See more on our Legal Options for 18 and Beyond page. Or get tips on our Housing page.
Doctors who work with children will be replaced by doctors who work with adults. Waivers and health insurance programs designed for children will be replaced by waivers and insurance programs designed for adults. And, legally, your now-adult child will be responsible for managing all of their medical care unless you put protections in place. If you are using the medical home model, the core medical team your child has been seeing can help your child get ready for this transition. Find out more at our Medical Transition page.
When your child is between the ages of 14 and 16 (or earlier, if possible), their ARD team must begin focusing on transition during the ARD meeting. Most colleges in Texas require the “Recommended” or “Distinguished” graduation plans. Learn more at Texas Project First’s Graduation Programs page. You can ask for test accommodations for the SAT, ACT, or AP exams (if needed). Learn more about these accommodations at College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities page. Visit our Education After High School and Transitioning Out Of Public Education pages for more tips.
Colleges and universities (4 year) offer bachelor’s degrees, in-depth studies, and can help students prepare for graduate degree programs. Community or junior colleges (2 year) offer associate degrees and job training programs; many classes or credits transfer to 4-year colleges. Vocational or technical colleges have job training for technical and specialized careers. Transitional education programs help your child keep going with their studies or prepare for a job after high school. Independent Living Services (ILS) can help your young adult improve their ability to do things on their own. Find out more on our Education After High School page.
Two-year community colleges offer associate degrees and job training programs. Many classes or credits transfer to 4-year colleges. Vocational or technical colleges have job training for technical and specialized careers. Transitional education programs help your child keep going with their studies or prepare for a job after high school.
It might be competitive employment, supported employment, self-employment or volunteer work. Visit our Careers page to find out more.
Most of our children can work with the right support. To find job search tips from other parents and employment programs, visit our Careers page.
It is especially important to keep a will when you have a child with a disability or special health-care needs. Without a will, you have less control over how your money and property will be distributed and, perhaps even more importantly, who will replace you as a guardian if your child needs one.
A backup guardian should know what would be expected of them if they were to gain custody of your child. To help them prepare, you might consider setting up a personal network and creating a Letter of Intent (LOI) for your child. These tools offer your child ways to have more people around them who understand their needs and can support them. Visit our Wills and Trusts page to learn more.