Special Needs Transition

Advocating for Your Special Needs Adult

Special Needs Transition

Advocating for Your Special Needs Adult

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“Everyone wants to support the cute kid…but what about when it comes to advocating for your special needs adult?”

It’s a question that often preoccupies the thoughts of a special needs parent.  Every step of the way, you found the resources to help your child to live a healthy and fulfilled life.  Then your little child grows into a teenager and then an adult before you know it. Despite the focus of many marketing and awareness campaigns on younger children, there are many resources that can help you support your special needs, adult child.  The transition may be a little less hard with a bit of planning.

Special Needs Transition

This means the transition out of school-based support into assisted or independent living.  Depending on the state you live in, your child will be able to take advantage of special needs programs provided by your local school system up until anywhere between the ages of 19 to 21.  After this time, you need to find alternate resources to further your child’s education and continuing therapy, and you will have to start executing a plan for their long-term needs.  This process can be stressful for a parent, but getting a roadmap from a parent mentor (VitalGuide) like Suzanne at Plan A-Z, who has gone through the transition process, can be beneficial.

Special Needs Employment Training

In some cases, your adult child may be able to find fulfilling work through a special needs training program or through an agency that specializes in disability employment for individuals like your child.  Some individual advocates help assess and define your child’s potential career pathways.  One example is CrossSpect, whose founder has spent his career advocating and assisting special needs adults find employment.

The Two Café and Boutique specialize in the training and placement of special needs individuals.   Also, comprehensive special needs whole-person care organizations such as Koinonia Homes have special programs for transition-aged youth that help with resumes and preparing for interviews.  If you want to learn more, check them out here.

You can also help your child in other ways by volunteering or finding vocational training that might be appropriate.  There are government programs run by your state or county boards that your child may be eligible to participate in.  Local advocacy organizations may help you, and it can be helpful to talk to other parents who have gone through finding employment.

Special Needs Advocacy

Advocating for your child may be difficult on your own can be difficult and frustrating.  Fortunately, some experts have experienced many cases.   Finding the right advocate or attorney can be difficult, but here are some best practices for finding a special needs attorney or advocate.  Advocates often specialize in specific areas such as special needs education and IEPs, employment and training, guardianship, housing, SSI, Medicaid, etc.  Be sure to ask specific questions before selecting an advocate.  Having someone who’s been there before and, on your side, can be very helpful in securing continuing resources for your adult child.

Special Needs Living and Housing

There are many ways to accommodate the long-term living arrangements for your special needs adult.  In-home support services, assisted living, special needs accommodations, and Section 8 housing are all areas you may consider.

The state and local government agencies usually provide In-home Support Services (IHSS).  These programs assist you in caring for your child, who remains at home living with you.  Depending on the support needed, you may be able to obtain a Medicaid Waiver for in-home support services.  Each state handles IHSS differently as a part of the Medicaid program.  You will need to consult a local advocate or contact these agencies for more eligibility information.

Assisted living and special accommodations are provided by organizations dedicated to supporting the long-term housing of special needs individuals.  The cost of utilizing one of these centers can be offset through Medicaid or Social Security (SSI) benefits.  Again, these funding programs are administered by state governments and as you’re exploring, consider having an advocate help you access these programs.

Section 8 housing are living accommodations allocated by the federal government to provide suitable living arrangements for low-income families.  Vouchers are provided to subsidize the rent for this type of housing.  To see if you or your family may be eligible, check out this article on the requirements to participate in the program.


Determining whether your child needs guardianship and who will be that guardian if you are not there is a big decision in the journey of your special needs adult.  The defined guardian determines critical decisions about your child’s finances and care.  Having a plan and designated individuals helps to avoid conservatorship, where the government appoints a person to manage these important life decisions.  Suzanne Shaft, a Parent VitalGuide, has written about her journey and what you should expect if you are thinking about guardianship for your special needs child.  You may consider scheduling a consultation session with Suzanne on Vitalxchange or someone similar as you proceed with specifying the guardianship for your child.

Estate Planning, Life and Future Planning

Imagining a time when you won’t be there to care for your child is difficult to consider.  However, with some research, planning, and ensuring you have put the proper supports in place, your mind can be at ease in knowing the living needs of your child are met.  Having an estate plan in place and knowing the special considerations for estate planning for your special needs adult are excellent places to start.  After you have a plan, you will want to find a special needs attorney to put your plan in place.

In Closing…

Create a new beginning for your adult by planning early.  Getting started on a plan for your special needs child’s transition and long-term needs can be overwhelming.  Our mission at Vitalxchange is to support you with the information and access to the resources you need.  We want to convert your anxiety into action.  Your cute little baby is now all grown up.  Know that there is plenty of support for you and their disability should not define or limit them.

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