The transition to adulthood can be a challenging experience for individuals with FASD because of the expectation of increased responsibility and independence in adulthood. The unique nature of FASD, coupled with the wide range of challenges individuals with FASD face and the lack of FASD specific services available, suggests that particular attention should be paid to the transition planning process for youth with FASD.
Transition planning is a process of preparing individuals to move from one life stage to another. For youth with FASD approaching the age of 18 (adulthood), transition planning should:
- Reflect the youth’s future goals;
- Outline a shift from child to adult services;
- Identify and build strengths and natural support systems;
- Promote the greatest possible level of independence;
- Promote inclusion in the community;
- Identify the needs of the youth and their families; and
- Promote self-determination.
Transition planning is a challenging process. FASD affects each individual uniquely, so each transition plan then must be unique to each individual’s situation and available resources.
In Canada, there are a number of documents outlining the transition planning process and how to implement a plan in various provinces for youth with developmental disabilities. However, very few youths with FASD in Canada actually have a transition plan in place. The intent of this research was to evaluate the current tools available and provide recommendations from this evaluation to better support youth and their families through this process.
Several Canadian provinces have transition planning tools and resources that are helpful when considering the needs of youth with FASD in their transition to adulthood. Some provinces have FASD specific transition tools (e.g the Alberta Youth with FASD Transitioning Initiative Toolkit and Strategies Not Solutions), while others have broadly released tools for youth with developmental disabilities.
- Integrated Transition Planning for Youth with Disabilities
- Strategies Not Solutions
- Transition to Adulthood: Transition Planning Tip Sheet
- Youth with FASD Transitioning Initiative Toolkit
- Bridging to Adulthood: A Protocol for Transitioning Students with Exceptional Needs from School to Community
- Complex Care Transition Resource Guide: Help Them Grow… So, They are Good 2 Go!
- A Guide to Transition Planning for Parents of Children with Developmental Disability
- Health Watch Table: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Integrated Transition Planning for Young People with Developmental Disabilities
- Information for Families: Youth in Transition
- The Cross-Ministry Transition Planning Protocol for Youth with Special Needs
- Your Future Now: A Transition Planning and Resource Guide for Youth with Special Needs and Their Families Who Live in Delta
Transition planning guides are not identical. However, an analysis of all the tools shows there are six common characteristics necessary for a successful transition from youth to adulthood:
- Transition planning should be conducted
- Transition planning should start early
- A transition plan timeline should be created and followed
- A transition planning coordinator should be designated
- The voices of youth with FASD should be included in the transition planning process
- A multidisciplinary perspective should be incorporated into the transition planning process
- Professionals should use the tools available to develop a transition plan for youth with FASD to successfully transition to adulthood. The transition planning process should have all six of the common characteristics listed above and should be person-centred and strengths-based.
- Policymakers should make consistent, evidence-based recommendations regarding the transition process to ensure consistency in success.
- More research should be done on the transition planning process to improve supports and resources. Research should be conducted to determine the extent to which planning is being implemented, the effectiveness of transition planning, and the experiences of individuals with FASD in their transition to adulthood.
Take Home Message
Persons with disabilities, including FASD, deserve to be supported in their transition process and their voices should be included in the planning stages and beyond. There are several tools available in Canada to assist professionals in developing a transition plan. Though these tools vary significantly, there are a number of commonalities between them. Policymakers need to make consistent, evidence-based recommendations regarding transition planning to ensure success. However, more research is needed to evaluate the transition process in greater detail.
Authors: Kelly D. Coons-Harding, Anna Azulai, and Audrey McFarlane
Date: 1 November 2019
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