Transition to adult life

For many years, families have learnt to work in partnership with schools, and enjoyed frequent contact with teachers and the daily book that goes to and from school every day. The last 2 years at school are much concerned with the choice of type of further education, sometimes residential, and with fostering independence. The process of finding a suitable and acceptable place is described as a lottery or a battle, and is very stressful for the parents. Many have struggled through the school days, hoping that a permanent placement will be found. Others fear the loss of their close contact with their child, particularly if given adult rights to make choices, with which the parents cannot agree. The possible outcome is one of three: independence, semi-independence, and dependence.

For those who remain at home, the other children in the family leave home as expected, leaving their mentally retarded brother or sister in what one mother described as 'a ghetto of the middle aged'. However, in many families, the provision of good further education programmes or day centres plus club or leisure activities can lead to a liberation and more happiness for all members of the family. Once more it is those with severe behaviour difficulties who are not accepted by further education establishments and who become increasingly frustrated and difficult to manage at home.

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