Transitions to adulthood for disabled young people: literature review

A literature review, commissioned by the Scottish Government, of existing Scottish, UK and International evidence on the experiences faced by disabled young people during their transition to adulthood. The review also explores best practice in supporting disabled young people during this time.


This literature review summarises and synthesises the most consistent and pertinent findings with regards to disabled young peoples' experiences of the transition to adulthood, and the existing evidence on best practice in supporting young people through this process.

We begin by outlining common experiences of transitions to adulthood in general. These include the stress that this process can entail for young people and their families, the often-inadequate planning that goes into this, and the paucity of accessible information and guidance on navigating this difficult journey. We then turn our attention to common elements of good practice with regards to transitions in general. These are grouped around a series of guiding principles, including early, sustained and wraparound planning, in concert with the young person in question, their family and carers, and all relevant practitioners. There is a high degree of consistency within the literature – regardless of source or sector – in support of these key guiding principles, but more mixed evidence on their practical application in Scotland and the wider UK.

We then turn our attention to specific transitions and provide greater detail on these. These include institutional transitions (from child to adult services within health and social care) and life-course transitions (relating to education, employment, independent living, and personal relationships). For each one in turn, we again outline common experiences and challenges faced by disabled young people, and identify examples of effective practice.

We conclude by reflecting briefly on these findings, as well as the amount and quality of the evidence pertaining to each facet, and outline a gap analysis and areas for future research and engagement with disabled young people.



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