Growing up is not always easy for children. It can be hard on parents, too. When your child has special health care needs, growing up may be more complicated.

Still, many parents of children with special needs find it helpful to remember the "bottom line." You want your child to be as independent as possible. Independence in adult life (health care, employment, living, and recreation) takes preparation.

The process of growing up and becoming independent is sometimes called "transition." The term refers to the transition from adolescence to adulthood and is often used when your child is:

  • Learning to be more independent
  • Learning to manage his or her own health care
  • Changing from pediatric to adult-oriented medical care
  • Moving from school to work and other aspects of adult life

Talking with your child about growing older and being independent can make the transition to becoming a teenager and young adult much easier.

In this chapter you will find tips to help prepare you and your child for the process of transition in health care - when your child is younger, a teenager, and an adult. For information on transition in other areas of your child's life, contact Family TIES at 800-905-TIES or 617-624-5992 (TTY), or the Federation for Children with Special Needs at 800-331-0688.

For more information about transition, see Transition Planning for Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs and Disabilities: Information for Families and Teens, (2000) a resource guide for parents and teens about growing older and the transition to adulthood. This guide gives information on health care, education, employment, and recreation.