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Students and Young Adults

Independent Living

Learning and practicing independent living skills is an important step to prepare yourself for your transition to adulthood. Someday you may want to live in your own apartment, or you may want to rent a house with friends. You may want to manage your own health care and finances, or you may want help with these things. Wherever and however you picture yourself living someday, you can learn more about independent living skills by watching the videos in the collections below.

Healthy Hobbies & Living On My Own

Healthy Hobbies: Skills for Life

Tanner, Skye, Nathan, John, and Zack are all students with disabilities, and each of them has discovered a healthy hobby of their own, from BMX biking to reading. In this video, they talk about how finding your own healthy hobby is a great stepping stone to the world of work, active participation in your community, and lifelong self-confidence. (5 min)

Independent Living: Jeeve Whirlwind’s Tips

In this comedy sketch, Dustin and Tim graduate from high school. Excited about their new freedom, they move into an apartment together before talking about boundaries and shared responsibilities. Watch what happens next. (7 min)

Moving Out Into the World

Haben, Naomi, and Justin are all world travelers, and they are all young adults with disabilities. In this video, they share their stories about journeying to faraway places, like Mali, Japan, and Spain. They encourage other young people with disabilities to go out into the world and travel. (5 min)

Additional Resources

Home is... (video series)
Josh, Barbara, Nathan, Joanna, Kevin, Dan, Charlie, and Sam are all young adults with disabilities who have moved out of their parents' homes and into homes of their own. In this five-part video series, they talk about what home means to them, and what they have learned from their experiences living as independently as they can.

Minnesota Centers for Independent Living 
Independent living means having personal control over the decisions that are made about your life, including where you live, what kind of work you do, how you get involved in your community, and what you do with your free time. Minnesota is home to 8 Centers for Independent Living. All of them are managed and staffed by people with disabilities who already have experience with independent living, and they can help you learn more about it. Find your local Center for Independent Living today at the map on this website. Ask about what services and activities they offer to students like you, on the journey to becoming an adult, and learning how to grow your independent living skills!

Disability Benefits 101: Young People and Benefits
Transitioning from high school to adult life is a very important time in your life. After high school, you will be making a lot of choices about getting more education and training, and finding a job that is right for you. This website has information to help you understand the many kinds of benefits that you might be eligible for, to support your transition to adulthood. You can also read stories about young people with disabilities like you, who have already gone through the experience of becoming adults. If you still have questions about how to take control of your own future, you can chat, call, or email an expert right at this website.

What You Need to Know about Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when You Turn 18
Some children with disabilities receive a monthly benefit from the federal government called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Do you get SSI? Do you have questions about what will happen to your SSI when you turn 18? Then this booklet is for you! It was written for young people with disabilities who get SSI, and for the people in your family who are supporting you on your journey to becoming an adult. Many different services and supports will be available to you when you transition from high school to adult life. Read on to learn about them.

The Path to Independence: Mobile Apps to Support Transition-Age Youth
If you are a young person with a disability, there are many free and low-cost mobile apps to support you on your journey toward college or technical training after high school, job training, employment, and independent living. With so many choices of apps for your cell phone, iPad, or tablet, it can be hard to choose one! This Index of apps has easy-to-understand descriptions of different apps that may help you, and links to more information.

Managing My Own Health Care

Jeff on Medical Decision-making

Jeff is a young adult with a disability who has had many surgeries in his life. In this video, he shares his experience of how he gradually took charge of managing his own health care. When he was younger, his parents made all the decisions about surgeries with his doctor. But now he makes all the medical decisions with his doctor, and his parents still support him. (2 min)

Dr. Right: The Right Way to Discuss Transition

Teresa is a young woman with a disability who is leaving home to go to college. In this video, she visits her doctor to get prepared. Teresa tells her doctor that her personal goals for college are making new friends, fitting in, staying healthy, not getting worn out, and taking advantage of all the opportunities of college life –including studying abroad. Teresa’s doctor works with her to write a health care transition plan that supports her personal goals. (8 min)

Schedule a Medical Appointment

Have you ever called your doctor to make an appointment? You may be wondering what questions you will be asked, and how you should prepare for the call. In this video, you will meet Kelly, a young woman with a disability who has some swelling in her leg and ankle. Kelly shows you the skills she has learned to call her doctor and make an appointment. (1 min)

Talking with Your Doctor and Other Health Care Providers

Now that you’re in your teens, it’s time for you to be more in charge of your health care. The purpose of this video is to help youth and young adults communicate more effectively with their doctors and other health care professionals. Jeremy, Kayla, Jeff, Loretta, April, Marcia, Jim, Amy, and Andrea are all young people with disabilities. In this video, they talk about their experiences with their doctors and how they learned to be good communicators. You will also learn a simple technique, called GLADD, that will help you feel more comfortable and confident talking with your doctors. (18 min)

How to Talk To Your Doctor

Going to the doctor is not always fun. But for young people with disabilities, it is especially important to visit your doctor regularly, and form a strong relationship with your doctor. Mary is a young adult with a spinal cord injury, and she has lots of experience working with doctors. In this video, Mary shares her advice for how to help your doctor see beyond your disability and relate to you as a human being. She also shares her advice for how to talk with your doctor about your goals, so that your doctor can make a treatment plan for you that will help you be as healthy, as active, and as independent as possible with the body you have. And don’t miss the bloopers at the end! (6 min)

Becoming an Adult: Taking Responsibility for Your Medical Care

An important step in becoming an adult is saying good-bye to your Pediatrician, and choosing a doctor who works with adults. In this video, you will see young people with disabilities who are getting more involved in managing their own health care. Dr. Jennifer LeComte shares her advice for practicing the skills you will need to know so that you can start taking responsibility for your own health care. (7 min)

Words to Know – from Coverage to Care

What is a PCP? What is the difference between in-network & out-of-network? What do you mean I have to pay a co-payment? If you are learning to manage your own health care, you need to learn to speak the same language that health care insurance companies speak. This video reviews some key words you need to know so that you can successfully manage your own health care. (2 min)

Additional Resources

Preparing for Adulthood: Taking Charge of My Own Health Care (video series)
Aaron, Bronson, Ellie, Isaiah, Nyk, Tatum, Talia, and Dennis all participate on PACER’s Youth Advisory Board on Mental Health. They produced this video series to talk about their experiences transitioning from pediatric health care to adult health care, and to give their advice to other young people with disabilities. If you have questions about what strategies you can use to start taking charge of your own health care, how your doctors and your IEP team can help you learn health care management skills, what you can do to prepare yourself for an appointment with your doctor, and how guardianship might help you manage your health care needs, this video series is for you!

Got Transition
Health care transition is what you do to get ready for health care as an adult. When you are a child, your parents are responsible for your medical needs. They choose your doctors, schedule your appointments, keep track of your medications, and more. But as you get older, it is important to learn the health care skills that you need to be as independent as you can in taking charge of your own health care. This website is packed with information, tools, and resources that will help you prepare for your own health care transition. Get started today with the online quiz!