Tips to cope with transition for disabled young people and their parents

This page tells you what you can do to help you through the changes as you move on to life as an adult.

The transition period from 14 to 25 years can bring a lot of changes.

Some of these can feel very positive. For example, you may be excited about having more independence and thinking about what you want to do when you finish school.

But it can be stressful when you’re involved in a move from child to adult services.

It’s always important to remember this period can be challenging for every young person and their loved ones. Like other people your age, you’ll be making new friendships and relationships, working out what you want, thinking about your future, and making some big decisions.

A lot of your challenges are likely to be the same as the challenges every young person faces. But you may have a few extra ones.

Also, your parents may find it difficult if you want to be more independent when they’re used to looking after you and making decisions for you. Most parents worry about their children at this stage in life, but your parents may have some extra concerns.

Tips for making the most of this time

Build self-esteem

Many young people struggle with doubts about the way they look, how they’re doing at school or college and their friendships. Some disabled young people can also feel different because of the way they communicate, connect with others and experience the world.

What you can do:

  • Remember, you’re not defined by being disabled. It’s just one part of you, and all young people are different in various ways.
  • Be proud of what you’re good at and what you’ve achieved so far, whether that’s art, swimming or being a supportive friend.
  • Learning new skills can be a great way to boost self-esteem.
  • Find some role models you admire, such as disabled sportspeople, writers, musicians, artists, actors, gardeners. The list is endless.

What your parents can do:

  • Remind you of all your qualities and the things you’re good at doing.
  • Respect your opinions.
  • Allow you to make choices about your life whenever possible.
  • This will all help to boost your confidence and independence.  

Manage moving on

Growing up can be stressful for everyone. You may worry about taking more responsibility for yourself. Your parents may feel concerned you won’t get the support you need to do the things you want to do.

What you can do:

  • Talk to other young people who are going through or have been through the process.
  • You can swap notes and tips and support each other.
  • Try to be involved as much as you can – for example, in meetings about transition.
  • This can give you a sense of control and help you have more confidence.

What your parents can do:

  • Begin involving you in decisions about your health, education and care as early as possible.
  • Start small by encouraging you to think about a question you can ask in a medical appointment, for example. Or they can ask the question on your behalf, if you prefer.
  • At an appointment or in a meeting to discuss your transition, make sure you get the support you need to communicate.
  • Never talk about you as if you’re not in the meeting – it’s important to include you in every discussion.

Get support

Families can sometimes feel overwhelmed and isolated at this time, but you’re not on your own. There’s support available to help you cope.

If you are a young person with complex disabilities, Sense is here to give you and your family support and advice on managing the transition process and preparing for adult life.

The charity Contact also has lots of information to help disabled young people and their families prepare for adult life.