The final episode of our 3 part series is finally here. Jake and Heather finish off this series with the discussion of the transition into adulthood for intellectually disabled. 

Transitions occur throughout life and are faced by all young people as they progress, from childhood through puberty and adolescence to adulthood; from immaturity to maturity and from dependence to independence. In addition, some young people experience extra transitions as a result of other life events for example, bereavement, separation of parents, and being placed in care.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities represent a heterogeneous group of people with a large array of abilities and diagnoses. This diversity arises as a marker of the severity of the intellectual disabilities which can be divided into mild, moderate, severe and profound. It is likely that an individual with more severe intellectual disabilities will encounter more barriers to accessing the same opportunities that are available to their peers without severe intellectual disabilities. In addition to this, individuals with intellectual disabilities are also more likely to have coexisting medical conditions than individuals’ without intellectual disabilities. There is an increased likelihood that individuals will have received a diagnosis of chronic illness such as epilepsy or mental health diagnoses.

Transition marks a time where an individual gains greater choice and autonomy as they become independent. This can be a source of great anxiety for parents and carer’s when deciding how best to manage risk in the future.

Parents are also in a stage of transition as their child enters young adult life. There are major changes and challenges for parents as they adapt their role and promote their child’s growing independence and life choices. It can be difficult to find a good balance between the duty of a parent to protect their child and the own rights of young adults.

Parents are usually very involved in child and adolescent mental health services however parents generally tend to be less involved in adult mental health services. This can be complicated for young people with intellectual disabilities as parents can have a much greater role in protecting their child from risks from others including exploitation or manipulation due to their vulnerability.

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