The Basics - What To Do And What To Know

If your child has a significant intellectual disability, there are some important things that you should know.


First, know that you're not alone!

There are a lot of people and programs that can help. It's a hard journey caring for a child with lots of needs, but you are here learning what to do! That's a great step!


Here's what you can do first:

  • Think carefully about what their life might look like after they turn 22.

  • Will they live with you or would you look for a supported living situation?

  • Could they work or volunteer if they had support? 

  • What are some ways that they can engage with the community? What do they like to do

  • Make sure that their IEP and transition plan address the skills they'll need for that future. They may need to learn things like self-care activities, social skills, communication and safety.

  • Talk with the IEP team about connecting with adult service agencies. You must give the school permission to do this, and it will be very useful. These agencies can help your child in many ways during the transition and after they leave school.

Some important things to know:

  • Your child can stay in school until they turn 22. The law guarantees them an education until this age, including therapies like speech, occupational and behavioral if needed. It's illegal for a school district to refuse to educate a child. They are required to find special educators and address your child's needs.

  • Students with significant intellectual disabilities will take a pathway called LEAP Connect or Alternate Assessment. (It used to be called LAA 1.)

  • When your child turns 18, you will no longer have a legal right to make decisions for them or to see their health or educational records. If they are unlikely to be able to make their own decisions as an adult, you should consider going through a legal process to get the right to make decisions on their behalf.

  • If your child will likely need personal care help as an adult, it's important to connect with adult service agencies while they're still in high school. You should also apply for Medicaid Waivers if you haven't already. These can provide paid services to help with personal needs.