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If you’re a student with a disability about to turn 18, congratulations! Once you’re 18 you are a legal adult. Everyone has things they need to figure out when they become an adult, and it can be overwhelming at times. That’s why it’s important to start transition planning early.
Being an adult means more responsibility for you. For example, when you turn 18, you have to start filing your own taxes. But there are some good things, too. For instance, when you turn 18 you gain the right to vote. Also, because you now might not be eligible for the same supports and services that you had growing up, you’ll need to ask and advocate for what you want and need. To figure that out, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities.
A transition plan can help by laying out next steps after high school like where you will live or if you’ll continue your education. If you’re a student with a disability receiving special education services, schools are required to work with you on a transition plan usually when you first start high school.
Agencies that can offer advice and recommendations should be invited to meetings at your high school about your transition plan. One example is your local Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Office. (See our handout on Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Texas for more information.)
Once you have a transition plan, what happens when you actually become an adult? VR can provide financial assistance and other supports if you want to continue your education. They can help you figure out what types of accommodations and services you might need at a college, vocational training, or a job and help set them up for you.
Another place to find support is your local Center for Independent Living. They offer peer support and skills training. They’re there to help you live in the community and not in places like group homes.
Alternatives to Guardianship
Right before you turn 18, your parent(s) might think they need to apply for guardianship, which means they would make all of your decisions. But this is not the only option, and it might not be the best option for you. If you want to be able to make your own decisions, another choice is Supported Decision-Making.
This means that when you become an adult, a person or group of people helps you in the decision-making process, but you get the final say.
When you turn 18, things change. You have to start planning for your future before those changes happen. In high school, you should be working with your school to make a transition plan.
Around that time, there might also be discussions about guardianship, but this might not be the best choice for you and there are other options like Supported Decision-Making where you have more control. Make sure to talk about all your options.
There’s a lot to learn as you take the lead in your life. As an adult, it’s extremely important to advocate for yourself. You have the right to choose your own path and to get the support you need along the way.
Publication Code: ED41
Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.
The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.
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