Parent Information - Preparation

Preparing for Leaving School

It is really important to encourage the life skills your young adult will need after they leave school. The best people to do this are parents/carers or other family members who can gradually develop confidence in  key areas over a period of time.  Learning and practicing skills at home is a natural way for your son/daughter to learn about adult life and responsibilities. Continually practicing and reinforcing skills means your son/daughter is more likely to remember what to do or what is expected in new situations.   Other people can support you to encourage the development of new skills such as teachers and Transition Officers who may be working with your son/daughter as part of an out of school activity.

It is important to begin preparation for leaving school as early as possible. In most situations this should be 18 months before leaving school to allow plenty of time to learn new skills and develop independence.  Life skills such as travelling on public transport, going to the local shops, having a bank account and budgeting their money will give your young adult more confidence and independence as they prepare to leave school. It will also mean they have more options available to them when it comes to making decisions about where to transition to.

Current Skills and Independence

Consider what life skills your young adult has already developed and what they can realistically achieve based on their ability.  If you are not sure about some of the areas then ask the opinion of the school or a transition service such as Orchardville if they are receiving support.  Below is a check list that you might find useful based on the key life skills that are usually needed if you transition to College, training or employment.  Consider what skills they have already achieved, what they can realistically develop and what might be holding them back e.g. confidence, communication skills, maturity, lack of opportunities etc




Comments/Ideas/ Planning

Responsible for personal hygiene (washing, brushing teeth, wearing clean cloths etc


Cross a road a safely without support


Buy items in a shop using their own cash or card


Send text messages


Communicate their needs


Look after possessions (e.g. coat, bag, money, phone)


Walk safely around a local area


Stay safely in the house on their own for up to an hour


Stay safely in the house on their own for up to 3 hours


Plan their day


Set their alarm and get up int the morning


Make their own breakfast/lunch


Travel on a public bus


Withdraw money from an ATM


Understand the value of money e.g. what you can buy with £5


Use social media in a responsible way


Make healthy food choices


Everyday household tasks e.g. make bed, tidy room, wash dishes, vacuum etc


Know how and where to ask for help when needed (e.g. contact emergency services  or ask for assistance with locating an item in shop)


Use a schedule or calendar to prepare for events or appointments


Safely use all household appliances


Administer own medication


Rating 1 – 5

  • 1 = not a realistic goal
  • 2= could begin to work towards this
  • 3= Already working towards this goal
  • 4= Able to do this most of the time
  • 5= Able to this all of the time

Make an Action Plan

Sometimes creating an action plan can help break ambitious goals into smaller achievable steps.  It might be useful to consider 4 or 5 skills from the check list that you think your son/daughter can achieve over a period of time.  How can you support them to achieve this skill?  Below is an action plan and some practical ideas that you could consider to support your son/daughter to develop their life skills and general independence.


How to Get There

Time Frame

What Success Looks Like

E.g.: Manage own money



Set up a bank account


Show how to use an ATM


Agree a monthly budget and what items are/ are not Ok to buy


Take your son/daughter shopping with you



6 months

Confident using an ATM


Doesn’t need to ask for top ups during the month


Pays for own items


Money is kept safe















Practical Ideas to Develop Skills

Travel & Transport

Walk with your son/daughter in the local area, point out where is good to cross the road, what road signs mean, indicator lights on cars, reinforce the green cross code.

Encourage the use of traffic lights or zebra crossings when possible.

Always set a good example when crossing the road.

Gradually let them take the lead when walking in the area or crossing roads

Research the transport options in your area if you think public transport is not realistic e.g. community transport, DATS. These services provide door-door transport and a more affordable rate than a taxi (currently £2.70 per journey).

In Northern Ireland if you have DLA/PIP Mobility you can apply for a Smart Pass which allows half price travel on public transport. In Ireland, if your child is receiving disability allowance, they are eligible for a free travel pass that applies to most public transport. If it has been confirmed by a medical professional that they require assistance to travel, they will be eligible for a Free Companion travel card that will allow one companion (over 16) to travel free as well.

Find natural opportunities to develop and reinforce these skills e.g. leave the car at home a few times each week if you need to go to the shop, take the dog out for a walk together, get the train to the city on a Saturday etc


Make sure your young adult always has a small amount of cash with them and how to safely store it e.g. men need a wallet and a secure pocket/ ruck sack and women carry a purse and handbag.

Set up a bank account for them with a cash card. 

Show them how to use an ATM to withdraw cash and check their balance. If they get a monthly statement discuss it with them.

Consider transferring pocket money electronically to the account to encourage budgeting skills rather than handing out cash as and when needed. This should also cut down on regular top ups during the month.

Shop together and discuss how much items cost.

Give them a shopping list of items you need and ask them to buy them – this also encourages responsibility.

Phones/ Social Media

If they don’t have their own phone consider getting them a mobile phone, there are lots of Sim only deals around.

Send them text messages and phone them to give them opportunities to practice using a phone.

List all their emergency contacts in the phone

Talk about online safely and check their phone regularly to see what sites they are viewing and who they are in contact with.

Home Safety & Independence

When your young adult leaves school it is likely their usual routine will change as the school bus may have collected them quite early and left them home later in the afternoon. Wherever they transition to it is likely that transport won’t be provided unless it is to a statutory service such as a day centre. They may not be allocated five days, or the session may be shorter than the typical school day. While not all young people with learning disabilities or autism can stay unsupervised at home there are many who do so successfully and learn how to over a period of time.

If this is a realistic option for your son/daughter here are some ideas to encourage the development of independence:

Gradually increase responsibilities for household chores. Over time, your son or daughter should participate in or learn to independently complete daily household duties such as:

  • Cooking meals
  • Washing and putting away their own laundry
  • Tidying living spaces
  • Creating shopping lists
  • Feeding pets
  • Recycling/ sorting the rubbish

Talk through and demonstrate these skills as needed. Sometimes, it can be useful to post pictures or notes that display the sequence of steps, much like one might use a recipe to cook a meal. For example, you might list the steps to using that washing machine so that they’re sure to remember the detergent and select the appropriate setting.

Teach them how to create to do lists or calendars to serve as reminders. You might also teach them to create and use reminders on their phone.

  • Give them a key to the house and discuss how important it is to always lock the door (when leaving and returning home)

Teach them how to make a basic snack e.g. a sandwich, heat up soup in the microwave, beans on toast etc.


Preparing to leave school can be a very anxious time for young adults as well as their parents and managing this anxiety can be very difficult.  There are services available within education and health that may be able to provide support if the level of anxiety your young adult is experiencing is more concerning. For example if they are refusing to attend school, self harming, have developed mental health issues or if there is an increase in challenging behaviour or new behaviours have been observed.

The first person to discuss your concerns with is the school eg class teacher, SENCO or pastoral care lead.  You can also get advice from your GP who may be able to refer you onto specialist services such as CAMHS or an autism specific intervention. If you have a social worker they will also be able to make referrals into health to services such as the Intensive Support Service (ISS) who can develop strategies to manage behaviour. There are some voluntary and community organisations that also offer support to young people experiencing anxiety eg UHub in Bangor or  Jigsaw & Teenline in Ireland.

What can parents do to reduce anxiety?

At home it is important to talk about leaving school and to involve your young adult in the decision making about options to the level they can understand. 

Involve your son/daughter in any visits you are planning to see services, talk about what you see there and involve them in the decision about whether or not it is a good option.

This website has a section for young people with information they need to know about leaving school. Take time on a regular basis to look at the website together and to talk through each of the areas which are options, practical steps, Healthy Living, My Networks and Independence.

There are a number of Apps designed to support people experiencing anxiety to self regulate their symptoms. They may not be suitable for your young adult to use but they may provide some tips on how you can support anxiety at home.  Some Apps include:

Whats Up – A Mental Health APP – Jackson Tempra

The Autism Plan HUB – The Autism Plan Hub

Clear Fear – help to manage your anxiety 

Molehill Mountain – Autistica & Kings College London