11 Jan 2023

Supporting teens with disability to increase independence

As children with disability grow and develop into teenagers and young adults, increasing their independence to have an appropriate level of autonomy and control over their lives will become increasingly important. Increasing independence is a common NDIS goal for teens and young adults.  


Helping teens and young adults to be more independent will look different for every person as will the level of independence that is appropriate. A good approach is to have both informal and formal support networks working together to help teens and young adults increase their independence.


Here is what this might look like:


At home

Encouraging independence at home can start long before your child reaches their teen years. Independent at home can be promoted at an early age by enabling children to take control of small everyday decisions. Like what to wear, whether to be indoors or outdoors, what to make for dinner, whether to watch a movie or listen to music and so on. Your child’s OT can provide advice and recommendations on what this might look like.


Create a support network

Create a network of trusted formal and informal carers beyond yourself. This means that your teenager or young adults has others that they can reach out to which will increase their sense of independence and confidence. They won’t only have you to come to you when they need help.


Friendship & community

All teenagers and young adults like to be able to make choices about the friendships that they form and the communities that they participate in. Support your young person to choose friendships and communities that are fulfilling and appropriate so that they can start to make their own decisions about how they spend their free time. Anything from dance class to art class, gardening group or even visiting the grocery store to pick up supplies either independently or with their Support Worker can provide opportunities for friendship and a sense of inclusion in communities.


Training and skills

What skills would your young person like to learn? Is training an option so that they can formally learn a skill of their choosing and achieve qualifications? All of this can go a long way to support them to find employment as adults.


Healthy habits

Help your young adult to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle that includes getting outdoors, movement and a balanced diet. Support them to create healthy habits enabling them to take control of their own health and wellbeing. Our health team can help with this if you feel that you need some extra support.


Foster interests

What does your teenager like to do? Are they into music or dancing? Fishing or the beach? Whatever it is, talk to your Support Worker (or other informal carers) about how these activities can be incorporated so that they get out and do some of the things that they love independent of mum or dad or their primary carer.