Julie McKinney, MS
June 22, 2022

Transition to adulthood for young people with disabilities: a timeline.

If you are the parent to a student with disabilities, the transition to adulthood can feel overwhelming. Here’s a timeline to help you through.

Timeline for Adult Transition

Wondering how to support your child with disabilities as they transition to adulthood? Looking for resources on how to plan ahead?

For students with disabilities or learning challenges, the transition from high school to adult life can be hard. But there are supports in the school and in the community to help your young adult through it.

Here, we’ve put together a handy Adult Transition infographic. It lists the main things you can do at each point to help your middle-schooler or high-schooler prepare for what’s next, whether it’s college, a job or supported living.


Click to Read Transcript

Exceptional Lives: Resources and Support for families caring for children with disabilities

Timeline for Adult Transition

Middle School*

What to Do:

  • Talk to your child about their future after high school.
  • Make sure the IEP meets their emerging needs.
  • Help your child take on more responsibilities and learn independent living skills.

*Keep doing these activities all through high school!

Early High School (Age 14-16)

What to Do:

  • Create a transition plan with the IEP team.
  • Start transition assessments and job preparation activities.
  • Assess mental health needs and keep communication open.

Late High School (Age 17-18)

What to Do:

  • Connect to adult service agencies.
  • Continue job training activities.
  • Prepare college applications (if that’s a goal).
  • Prepare for transfer of rights at age 18.

Beyond High School (Age 19-22+)

What to Do:

  • Extend high school up through age 21 if your child needs more preparation.
  • Help your child find disability supports if they’re in a college program.
  • Secure adult services to support independence, community engagement, and employment.

Visit Adult Transition Hub Page for more.

Access the full-size PDF version of this graphic here. Feel free to download, print, and share with others!

Learn more about the transition for young adults with disabilities here. (It’s written for Louisiana, but most of the information applies to any state.)

  • Julie McKinney, MS

    Director of Training / Health Literacy Specialist

    Julie McKinney has over 25 years of experience in health literacy, plain language, and adult education. She has deep expertise in writing information so it’s easy to understand, and has developed trainings for educators in clear communication.

    At Exceptional Lives, she ensures that our content is clear and friendly. She also works to strengthen relationships with community partners, and designs trainings that help them connect with families.
    Julie also has experience parenting kids with ADHD, learning disabilities and significant intellectual disability. She has ushered her own children through schooling and transition to adulthood, and is committed to helping make this process easier for others.

    Her core view is that good relationships are the key to just about anything we hope for.

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