Preparing Your Teenager with Special Needs for Adulthood: Transition Planning
The word "transition" means to make a change or a move from one place to another. A big transition for teenagers happens when they are ready to leave school and enter adulthood. This transition may include attending a college/university or other training program, entering the workforce, living independently, or all the above.
As a parent of a teen with disabilities, it is important to plan early for this transition. This includes working together with your child to set goals and plan for:
- Health care needs; possibly switching to a different doctor or practice;
- Education beyond high school;
- Independent living; moving out of his/her parents home; and
- Participating in the community.
When To Begin Transition Planning
You should begin to plan for your child's future by the age of 14. During this time it is important to work closely with your child and the Transition Planning Team. The Transition Planning Team is part of the Individualized Education Plan Team (IEP) you work with at your child's school. The purpose of this team is to talk about options your child has after leaving high school - like more schooling and/or work. As a parent, you can invite anyone to the meeting that you feel will be supportive to you and your child, such as a friend or family member, physician, or other professional. The team will help you and your child create a plan that will help prepare him/her to meet their long-term goals.
Planning For Your Child's Health Care Needs
Planning for your child's health care needs as they transition to adulthood usually includes moving their care from a pediatric health care provider to an adult health care provider. Making this change can help make sure that your child continues to receive the care they need as they get older. To get this process started:
- Talk to your child's pediatric health care provider. Your pediatrician can refer you to an adult health care provider who is knowledgeable about your child's disability.
- Set up a time for you and your teen to meet his/her new health care provider. This will give you, your teen, and the provider a chance to get to know one another before a health care issue arises. (It is also a good idea to interview a few health care providers to be sure that the provider you and your teen select will meet all his/her health care needs.)
When helping your teen with disabilities plan for their health care needs as an adult, it is important to think about options for proper health insurance. There are several options available including:
- Private Health Insurance: Private health plans often have different policies regarding the age at which your child no longer qualifies for coverage. Make sure that you are familiar with your health insurance policy.
- SSI: Social Security Insurance (SSI) is for both children and families. Eligibility depends upon the income of the family. In order to qualify, the child must be medically or developmentally disabled. For more information, call 800-772-1213.
To avoid losing health care coverage, it is a good idea to begin this process before your child turns 18 by calling the Social Security administration office nearest you.
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