Healthcare Transition Intro for Youth with Special Healthcare Needs

Healthcare transition, the process of moving from pediatric medicine to adult-oriented medicine is often a difficult journey for youth who have significant medical, intellectual, communications and/or behavioral challenges.   During this stage of development, young adults may experience leaving high school, starting work, attending a vocational school or college, joining a branch of the military, living away from the family home for their first time, setting up a home of their own, dating and for some, finding a spouse or partner and starting a family.   This stage also involves accepting more adult responsibilities, making independent decisions and becoming financially independent.  

We know that a national “emerging young adult” health agenda - including thoughtful healthcare research, programs and national and state policies regarding delivery and access to healthcare must be developed (Emerging Young Adults by Lawrence S. Neinstein, 2013). According to Neinstein’s report there are 34. 6 million emerging young adults in the United States which is defined as young people aged 18 to 25. They occupy the space between adolescence and young adulthood– they are separating from home and parents, but in many instances are not yet completely independent adults. It is a potentially precarious time of life. If they also are living with a disability or chronic medical issue, life can be even more complicated.

Nationally about 32.5 million people of all ages in the United States live with severe disabilities which is about 12 percent of the population. Approximately one to two percent of all school-aged youth nationally have complex support need and they face challenges in healthcare transition.

With the support of the FISA Foundation, ACHIEVA’s Disability Healthcare Initiative produced

Transition from Pediatrics to Adult Medical System for Young Adults with Disabilities or Special Healthcare Needs in March 2014 to propose a framework of solutions to assist with this transition.