AutismChanging from child to adult care

What happens when your child turns 18

Where possible, your child will be asked to be more involved in the decisions about their care from the age of 16.

When your child turns 18:

  • the NHS will continue to care for their health, but they may see a different doctor or a care team for adults
  • they may have to pay for some of the care they used to get for free from the council
  • any support they need to help with their education will need to be provided by their college or university, if they go to one

If your child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP), this will usually continue until they're 25, unless they:

  • do not need support anymore
  • go to university
  • get a job

What you can do to help your child

It's a good idea to start thinking about your child's future when they're around 14 or 15.

You could:

  • speak to any doctors or care teams your child has about what happens when they turn 18
  • apply for a needs assessment from your council – this may help your child get some free care and support when they're an adult
  • apply for a carer's assessment if you care for your child – you may be able to get support and financial benefits
  • ask colleges or universities what support they can give your child, if they're planning to go to one

If you find it hard to get support from your council

If your council decides your child does not need the same support when they turn 18, you can complain if you disagree.

Check your local council's website for information about making a complaint.

The National Autistic Society has a complaint letter template that might help.

You might also want to use an advocate (someone who helps speak up for you).

An advocate can:

  • help you understand the care process and challenge decisions you disagree with
  • go to meetings and write letters with you

Page last reviewed: 18/04/2019
Next review due: 18/04/2022