Transition to Adult Services

CDNTs support children and young people who have complex needs arising from a disability. Once they reach 18 years, your young person will transition into Adult Services.

Supporting your young person’s skills development (12-16 years)

Discussions around the transition to young adulthood should start early on. A lot of literature suggests that parents begin to think about these changes while your young person is between the ages of 12-16 years. 

As your young person moves into adolescence, there will be a natural focus on the development of their independence skills and their sense of autonomy.

You and your young person can take this time to think about and identify what skills they might need as they progress towards adulthood, and to also think about what is important to them and their own goals.

Skills development will look different for every young person. It can be as simple as choosing appropriate clothing to wear to school, to money management, to identifying ways they like to enjoy their free time, and who they want to spend time with.

As part of their work with the CDNT, your young person, as appropriate, will be actively involved in the goal setting for their Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP). They can use their IFSP goal setting to work on the skills they have identified as important to them.

Talking about this transition with your young person (16-18 years)

It’s important to start discussions with your young person around what they would like to do when they finish school. You will know best when and in what format the discussions should happen.

Don’t be scared to allow your young person to be independent. It looks different for every young person with complex needs arising from a disability, and it may take some time to consider what will work for them.

Below are some suggestions for your discussions with your young person.

  • What do they want to do?
  • Where do they want to live in the future? 
  • How do they want to spend their time and who with?
  • Would they like to use community support or work with personal assistants etc?
  • Will they attend college or a day service or will they work?
  • Can they travel independently?
  • What changes will this bring to family life?
  • What types of supports will they need for these changes?
  • What their entitlements are, such as Disability Allowance.
  • Conversations with them about sexuality and relationships.
  • How they want to make choices and learn to advocate for themselves.

These questions can take time to answer, because they are often dependent on what support will be available to your child as they reach adulthood.

It is important to remember as well that once a young person is over the age of 16 years, it is assumed they have capacity to make decisions, according to the Assisted Decision-Making Act 2022: Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (

Discussing the transition to Adult Services with your CDNT

As part of this planning, you and your young person could discuss the following with their CDNT:

  • Access to health and disability supports
  • Access to education and training
  • Access to employment
  • Community resources and supports
  • Housing long-term
  • Human rights and disability.

What happens next?

The Day Opportunities Officer from the HSE's Day Opportunities Service will liaise with you, your young person, and their school, during their last year in school. If your young person is in an autism class attached to a mainstream school, you may wish to clarify with the school if they will make the referral or if you should contact the Day Opportunities Service Office. Your CDNT may also be asked to share information with the Day Opportunities Officer with your consent.

This will be to identify what day opportunities there are for your young person (such as day services, courses they might like to do, or what employment opportunities are there for them).

In some instances, for your young person, you may want to refer to the Young Adults Team (YAT) for therapeutic inputs.

Empowering your young person

Transition can be daunting and while decisions you make are important, they will not be for life. The aim is to allow for as smooth a transition for your young person, so they feel empowered as they enter adulthood and are excited for the opportunities ahead of them.

The planning you will have done with your young person as they move from adolescence into young adulthood will serve them well in their move into this next chapter of their lives.

See the following pages for more information on the Day Opportunities Service, the Young Adult Team (YAT), and other opportunities and services your young person might like to avail of.