People with Down’s syndrome and their families experience many key transition moments in the course of their lives. Leaving school and starting your young adult life can be a challenge for everyone but for people with Down’s syndrome this key transition step is often fraught with additional hurdles and difficulties.
We need to improve the experience of transitions for young people with Down’s syndrome as they leave school. As school life is significantly disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this need has become even more pressing.
Making plans for moving on from school can be especially difficult for young people with Down’s syndrome and their parents. And although a set of ‘Principles of Good Transitions’ has been developed and widely adopted across Scotland, further work is required to ensure that these principles are applied consistently and universally across Scotland. As an example, the principles recommend that planning should start early, from age 14, and continue up to the age of 25 but parents tell us that this is rarely the case for young people with Down’s syndrome. Many parents and schools are not aware of this recommendation and in many instances, we are told there is little or no planning until the very last months and weeks of school.
Our discussions with parents have also identified that an earlier transition that can present challenges is from primary to secondary school. Many parents report higher levels of input and support, for example from speech and language therapists, in primary school with reduced provision when their son or daughter reaches secondary school.
We are working with a group of teachers, allied health professionals, parents, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Transitions Forum to find new ways to improve the experiences of young people and their families as they move through school and into adulthood. This work is even more pressing as we all cope with the upheaval to our daily lives and advanced planning to achieve a good transition appears to have taken a step backwards.
Please #TakeAStepForward with us and join our campaign to improve transition planning for young people with Down’s syndrome living in Scotland.
Get in touch at takeastepforward.org.uk to discuss how you can get involved.