Transition to adulthood


When we think about transitions we naturally think about the big transitions like leaving school or transferring from primary to secondary school. But transitions of any kind, at any time, may be difficult for PDA individuals. Starting a new club or activity, leaving home in the morning to go to school or work, even moving from their bedroom to the kitchen, can be extremely difficult for some. Transitions are a demand.

This page focuses on transitions to adulthood, i.e. beyond age 16.

It’s good practice for schools to start thinking about transition for SEND children from year 9 (age 14). For children with an EHCP, this will start at the Y9 annual review and a Transitions Team Social Work should be invited to attend alongside the parents, school, local authority and any other relevant professionals involved with a child.

The options for post 16 are:

  • Sixth form
  • College
  • Apprenticeship – children with an EHCP may be able to access a supported internship programme
  • Work – please see our workplace adjustments for PDA page and this Transition to employment toolkit by Ambitious about Autism
  • Or a child may need support from Social Care to find meaningful activities or voluntary work, and some may need support to live independently, in supported living or residential accommodation. It may be helpful to complete an independence skills ‘checklist’ before seeking support from Social Care. The independence inventory, shared with us by Evelyn Ashford from Educational Equality, has the option to tick ‘can’t’ or ‘won’t’: this is an important distinction to make as with PDA, it may often be a case of being unable to do things (can’t) rather than being unwilling to do things (won’t). The Life Skills Inventory is another independent living skills assessment tool that may be helpful.


recording of our Q&A on the topic of transitions into college and work is available to purchase for 30 days via our training hub.

Independent Travel Training

Many teenagers and young adults with PDA find travelling on public transport or travelling alone very stressful; many have had SEND transport provided for them to be able to get to school/college via their EHC Plan.

Most Local Authorities (LA’s) now provide free Independent Travel Training for SEND children who would like to be able to be more independent when travelling to college or work. Each LA may have slightly different schemes, so please contact your LA to find out more details.

A Guide To Decision Making At Transition
The legal position regarding decision making changes once a person becomes an adult and it is important to understand how your autistic child may be affected by this. Guide for parents of children 16+.

Universal Credit for disabled students
Many disabled young people can qualify for Universal Credit if they establish a ‘limited capability for workbefore starting their education course — a process that the charity Contact recommends starting when your child turns 16. In this Q&A, Contact Family Finance adviser Derek Sinclair offers parents help to better understand the rules and what your child could do to prepare ahead in order to facilitate a quicker Universal Credit claim in the future.

The links below are to other charities that can provide further useful information on transitioning to adulthood:

IPSEA – annual reviews in year 9 and beyond

Contact – education beyond 16

Contact – preparing for adult life

National Autistic Society – transitions

National Autistic Society - employment

National Development Team for Inclusion – preparing for adulthood

Ambitious about Autism - Transition to employment toolkit