Making a plan

This advice applies across the UK.

The change from being a teenager to becoming an adult is often referred to in the world of disability as “transition”. On this page, we’ll help you get the transition planning process started.

In this article

Why do I need to plan?

Becoming an adult does not happen overnight. Similarly, transition is a process that should start early and take careful planning.

And it’s vital the young disabled person you care for remains at the heart of this. This is often referred to as ‘person-centered planning’.

When to think about planning

It’s can be helpful for you and your son or daughter to think about what a happy adult life would look like for them, and do your own plan for the future. This will help in discussions and meetings with others involved in making decisions about your child’s support. You can do this as early as you think feels right.

For families in England

If your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, transition planning forms part of the ongoing annual review process. Preparation for adulthood starts when the plan is reviewed in year 9 (age 13/14) and continues every year after that.

Similarly, the Care Act ensures that if your child is receiving services for the local authority, there is a transition period into adult services.

What should a plan include?

There are online templates that you might find useful to help with this.

Below are some key questions to consider:

Your child’s views and wishes should be the starting point, even if they seem unrealistic, or you don’t agree with them. If your child has severe and complex needs, they may not be able to say what they want in the future, but you will know a lot about their likes and dislikes and how they communicate with those around them.

You may have your own thoughts about what a good adult life will look like for them. You might also want to ask other friends and family members who know them well, or who are involved in their care and support, for their views.

Be flexible with the plan. Ideas change, new opportunities come up, and sometimes things just don’t work out. You can revise your plan as often as necessary to make sure it’s complete and up to date. 

How to make a plan

Write down short, medium, and longer term goals. These will be different for everyone, but a short term goal might be something like making their own lunches or doing physio. Medium might be learning to manage travel. And long term could be anything from trying a new activity to moving into their own home.

Focus on one goal at a time and work out what is needed to make it happen. Does your child need to learn any new skills first? What support or equipment might they need? Does anyone else need to be involved? If so, who?

Think about a timescale for the short term goals. These will be steps on the way to achieving the others. Of course, you can set timescales for those too, but that’s a personal thing – for some people that’s helpful; others find it overwhelming.

Write everything down. Check out life planning templates online or planning apps to find one that works for you. The important thing is to have something to refer back to.

Turn it into action. Write down who will do what to reach the goal, and when you’ll review progress. Don’t be discouraged – if you don’t progress as fast as you thought, just work out what held you up and plan for that next time.

Breaking large tasks into smaller chunks makes things more manageable and can stop you feeling swamped. It’s a good idea to introduce your child to planning in a structured way where possible too, as a useful life skill.

Top tips from a parent

Gail is a member of the parent carer forum Oxfordshire Family Support Network. She went through the transition process some years ago.

Here are Gail’s tips – from someone who’s been there and done it!

Where can I find more information?