Transition Timelines for Ages 18-22

By Nancy Mader, Director of Transition Projects, FCSN

Nancy MaderIn the last edition of Newsline, I presented an overview of transition timelines for ages 14-17. In this edition, I am going to discuss timelines for ages 18-22. I decided to discuss the ages separately because of the significant changes that happen when a young person turns 18, also known as the “age of majority”. This milestone is so significant that we partnered with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to write a brochure to help families prepare for and navigate the changes that happen at the age of majority and beyond. You can read and download the brochure here (PDF).

When a young person turns 18 in Massachusetts, they are legally considered adults – with adult rights and responsibilities. Meaning: they can sign their own IEP, sign a lease, vote, or join the armed forces. There are many things for families and students to consider between the ages of 18 and 22.
Here are some highlights by age:

Age 18

Before the student turns 18, the family and student should discuss and (hopefully) agree on decision-making options around education, finances, healthcare, and independent living. Decision-making options can include:

  • Healthcare Proxy
  • Joint/custodial bank account
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Trusts
  • Representative payee
  • Conservatorship
  • Guardianship

Continue to help the student actively participate in his/her IEP meeting. The IEP will be more effective when the student is a part of planning their learning and postsecondary goals. IEP goals should reflect the student’s postsecondary vision and the services that the school will provide to help them achieve their goals. The team should:

  • Discuss and agree upon anticipated date of graduation.
  • Register all males for Selective Service.
  • Apply for Section 8 Housing.
  • Help the young adult register to vote.
  • Continue to provide the student with vocational experiences.
  • Continue to document progress toward goals and skills development needs through assessments.
  • The family and student should start to research and consider adult physicians and medical / mental health providers.
  • Determine eligibility for adult services through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Department of Developmental Services, Department of Mental Health, and/or Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Ages 19-22

  • If the student is staying in school until they turn 22, adult services should be set up to start upon the student’s 22nd birthday.
  • The student should be engaging in vocational experiences through school, MRC, and/or by volunteering in their community.
  • Student and families should visit postsecondary training options, day programs, and other services and supports.
  • If appropriate, the student should transition to adult medical providers including primary care physician, dentist, etc.
  • Significant focus should be placed on getting out in the community, self-care, social inclusion, self-advocacy, self-determination, and independent living.

Timelines can be a great way to look into the future and know what tasks and challenges are ahead. Understanding the changes that come with the age of majority is critical and planning around decision-making will help for a smooth transition into adulthood. Please explore more detailed transition timelines by visiting the following links: