top of page

Equest Answers: What to know as your child with special needs becomes an adult

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Equest Answers Season 2 Episode 1:

What to know when your child with special needs becomes an adult

1. Guardianship – When your child becomes 18, they are required to make their own decisions. Though you are still their parent, you are no longer their legal guardian, according to the law.

What does that mean?

If you would like medical information about your child, for example, you are no longer automatically privy to that information once your child turns 18. You are no longer allowed, legally, to make decisions for your child.

What do I do to fix that?

You must file a petition with the court requesting guardianship of your child.

Where can I learn more?

A Texas Guide to Adult Guardianship:

2. Housing – Where is the person with the disability going to live now that he or she is an adult?

What does that mean?

There are many options for housing – with the guardian, group home, independently, family members. It’s important to talk as a family to see what the best option is, and to ask your child what he or she prefers.

Where can I learn more?

Housing Choices for Young Adults with Disabilities by Navigate Life Texas:

3. Government benefits – At the age of 18 benefits are available based on the individual’s income.

What does that mean?

The benefits your child can receive are now based on your child’s income rather than your household income regardless of whether the child continues to live with you. Your child can even be responsible for paying you rent or lodging if that’s of interest to you.

You might not have qualified for certain benefits when your child was underage, but now he or she might qualify based on his or her income.

Where can I learn more?

Texas Health & Human Services:

4. The Plan – Education, Job Opportunities, Social Settings

What does this mean?

Discuss what’s next for your child. Typically, children with special needs age out of public-school systems at 18 or 21 years of age – so what’s next? Does he or she want to work? Are there college programs available? Does he or she want to attend a day program? Include your child and explore what he or she likes.

Where can I learn more?

A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities:

Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities: What’s After Public Education?

5. Social – There are many social interactions and engagements in school, but what happens after school? What does your child’s social life look like once he or she is an adult?

What does this mean?

How has your child prepared for life after school? What does a social life look like in their living situation – are they at home with parents, in a group home, living independently? How do you keep the interaction with others going? How can your family unit ensure that your child isn’t sitting at home alone on an iPad?

Where can I learn more?

Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship – consider enrolling your child in horse show competitions or therapeutic riding. Your child can make friends in class and compete as part of their show team. Equest also offers vocational training to help students learn skills to secure a job – (972) 412-1099

My Possibilities – the first full day, full year continuing education program in Collin County for disabled Texans who have “aged out” of public education – (469) 241-9100

Special Olympics – not only provides year-round sports training and competition, but also health and inclusion programs for individuals of all ages with intellectual disabilities –

Best Buddies – builds one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities –

The Clubhouse for Special Needs Fort Worth – provides a safe and fun place for teens and young adults the opportunity for education, socialization and independence in a recreational atmosphere –

What services are available to parents who are going through the adult transition?

There are professional services (for a fee), self-advocates, and nonprofits who can help you through this process.

Take advantage of the workshops or events that you are invited to and network with other parents. It’s more about learning what’s out there and deciding which services are best for your family.

Tip: Look for a service provider who specializes in adults with special needs.

Where can I learn more?

MassMutual SpecialCare Program – specially trained professionals who can help you create a holistic life care plan -

The Arc – nonprofit that offers information and referral services, advocacy, support, and recreational programs to those with special needs -

The Friendship Circle – today’s fastest growing Jewish organization for child with special needs –

Federation for Children with Special Needs – offers special education for parents, family support, health advocacy, family and community engagement, parent-to-parent support and more –

Special Needs Alliance – connection to attorneys in your area that practice disability and public benefits laws –

What are some things that parents with small kids can do now to help with the transition to adulthood?

Become educated! There are so many services available now that weren’t 20 years ago. There are workshops and magazines that are geared towards families with children with special needs.

There are several Facebook groups that are specifically for parents or families with children with special needs. It’s a great way to build a community of support.

Don’t scare yourself with the Internet! You can learn a lot from other parents and caregivers.

Where can I learn more?

Facebook Group: Texas Special Needs Community

Facebook Group: Special Needs Families of Southern DFW

Magazines: DFWChild, DFW Thrive, Suburban Parent Magazine

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Equest at or (972) 412-1099. We can connect you with Kelly Piacenti, Head of SpecialCare at MassMutual.

bottom of page