Navigating the System
A Guide for People with Traumatic Brain Injury and Their Families

How will my teens healthcare and support services change when she reaches adulthood?

Sep 24, 2013, 17:23 PM
YouTube Code:
Meta description:
10, 20, 30
Things to consider about medical and social services as your teen approaches adulthood:

Medical care: Some pediatricians are willing to continue to treat a young person as she becomes an adult. You need to ask your teen’s pediatrician if this is the case or if she will need to find a new physician who treats adults. Most primary care doctors are “generalists” and may or may not have experience dealing with the needs of a person with a brain injury. You may want to consider finding a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation (often called a PM&R doctor or physiatrist) who has experience with TBI.

“Aging out” of services: When your teenager with brain injury reaches a target age, she will “age out” of some service systems serving children. For example, a young adult is eligible to receive school-based services up to the age of 22 (if still in school). You need to find out the age threshold for each program in which your teen is enrolled, such as those provided by the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). At that point, your young adult becomes eligible for adult services for people with disabilities, such as the state Independent Living Rehabilitation Services (ILRS) and Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab). She may also be eligible for Social Security disability-related benefits and Medicaid.

It is important to understand that adult services have an expectation of “consumer choice and responsibility” that may be challenging for your young adult with TBI. Memory issues that cause missed appointments, for example, will likely be interpreted as non-compliance rather than understood as a symptom of her brain injury. If your young adult needs help to explain her limitations and needs to adult- service providers, she will need to authorize the presence of a personal advocate (such as yourself or a designated support person)—otherwise, the adult system will assume that she is capable of directing her own services without assistance.

If she has significant cognitive limitations that impair her ability to assume these responsibilities, you may need legal advice on establishing Power of Attorney and/or Guardianship BEFORE she reaches the age of 18. Go to the video entitled “What do I need to know before my child with TBI reaches age 18?” for further information on appropriate legal options.

Contact the State Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Rehabilitation Services programs at 1-800-563-1221 (toll free).
Brain Injury Alliance
© 2013 Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona. All rights Reserved. Disclaimer.