Planning: Preparing Your Teenager with Special Needs for
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
- 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. 561 7145 8661387
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
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
- 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
- Katie Beckett: Katie Beckett is
a medical coverage program for children from birth to 18
years of age who have special health care needs. The Rhode
Island Department of Human Services provides the program. In
order to qualify, the child must be medically or
developmentally disabled and live at home. Children that
have Katie Beckett, who continue to have long-term health
needs are reviewed at age 17. If the child’s condition
prevents him/ her from working, a new plan called Community
Medical Assistance will take over when the child turns 18.
For more information about Katie
Beckett or Community Medical Assistance, call the Katie
Beckett Long Term Care Unit in your area:
- Providence, East Providence,
and Pawtucket: 401-222-7000
- Northern Rhode Island
(Cumberland, Lincoln, and Woonsocket): 401-235-6300
- South County (including
Cranston, Warwick, and Westerly): 401-462-5248
- East Bay (Newport,
Jamestown, and Portsmouth): 401-849-6000
- 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.
If your child is covered under Katie
Beckett or SSI, their eligibility must be re-determined at age
18. 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.
Your Child’s Education After High School.
There are many options for education
after high school that your teen may be interested in. Colleges,
universities, and training programs may be among those your teen
explores. To help your child find the program that is right for
- Meet with your child’s guidance
counselor and IEP Team. They can help you and your teen
identify educational programs that may be of interest.
- Once he/she finds a program of
interest, speak with someone in the Office of Disability
Services to find out what disability support services they
offer. Encourage your teen to choose a program that provides
the level of support that will best meet his/ her needs.
Remember to ask each program what proof of disability they
require in order for your teen to qualify for services.
Your Child’s Work.
There are thousands of different jobs
and careers for teenagers to choose from. Young adults with
disabilities may choose to work in a variety of settings, with
or without support. The challenge is to help your teen find a
job where his/her skills and interests match the needs of the
employer. There are several Rhode Island agencies that offer
support to teenagers with disabilities who are ready to enter
the workforce. These agencies offer assistance with:
- Resume writing;
- Finding internships;
- Volunteering; and
- Job shadowing.
Your Child’s Independence.
Part of helping your child transition
to adulthood includes teaching him/ her to be independent.
Teaching independence includes taking responsibility for daily
activities such as managing health care, going to school or
work, getting around, managing a budget and even voting. There
are two independent living centers in Rhode Island that can
assist you and your teen, and help them become an active member
of their community by teaching daily living skills like
shopping, preparing meals, and keeping a job.