Transitioning Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs from Pediatric to Adult Health Care

Youth with disabilities become adults with disabilities. If you are a youth with disabilities or the parent of a youth, changing from pediatric health care to adult health care can be a challenge.  

Care needs to be coordinated and comprehensive. It should occur within a medical home. 

Successful health care transition can lead to: 

  • Better health 

  • More productive life 

  • Self-sufficiency and independence 

  • Prevention of secondary conditions 

  •  A smooth transfer to an adult primary care provider 

Having good health means: 

  • Better time management 

  • Healthy lifestyle habits (see healthy lifestyle habits pyramid) 

  • More time to spend with friends 

  • Fewer trips to doctor 

  • Fewer money/insurance problems 

  • Ability to choose your own doctor 

  • Better self-awareness 

Not having good health can mean: 

  • Dealing with sudden medical problems and spending more time with doctors instead of enjoying life to the fullest 

  • Missed school/job opportunities 

  • No time for friends/loss of friendships, supports, and resources 

  • More money/insurance problems 

The most important part of understanding the transition process is to master the ability to manage your own health care through: 

  • Appointments with health care providers (who to see and when) 

  • Medication management (what, why, when and how) 

  • Record keeping and documentation 

  • Medical decision-making (especially if your child is now 18 years old) 

  • Knowledge of your health condition 

  • Knowledge of insurance options 

  • How to handle medical emergencies 

Resources for a Successful Transition  


Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Access to Care Specialist: Holly Shoun,