McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Kit prepares disabled teens for adult life

Published: November 29, 2012
Matt Freeman
Matt Freeman, a CanChild researcher and McMaster PhD student

Youth with disabilities say transitioning from pediatric to adult health care and community services is like falling off a cliff.

Researchers at McMaster University’s CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research recognize that gap and are helping bridge it through development of the Youth K.I.T. (Keeping It Together) of information. This free, online resource was developed to prepare disabled teens in the transition to adult life.

The project was done in collaboration with the Hamilton Family Network.

Matt Freeman, a CanChild researcher who himself has cerebral palsy, worked on a team to develop the Youth K.I.T. The information includes managing medication, identifying special needs, and guidance for social activities like throwing a party, planning post-secondary education and landing a job.

Thirty-six participants, from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, between the ages of 14 to 21 with different disabilities have trialed the kits.

"We found the K.I.T. allows youth to give, receive and organize information about themselves," said Freeman, who is also a McMaster PhD student. "It gives them a way to set goals and helps them tell their own story."

Jan Burke-Gaffney is a long-time user and proponent of CanChild’s first K.I.T. for parents of children with disabilities. She is the mother of Emily, 24, and Jesse, 27, both with Down syndrome.

"Within the first two years of diagnosis, families can have over 200 different appointments with doctors, nurses, therapists and counselors," Burke-Gaffney said. "The parent K.I.T. helps you organize all the information and identify and track resources you might not be getting."

The Youth K.I.T. has been made available for free download  through funding from the Hamilton District Society for Disabled Children and will be available on Dec. 3 to celebrate the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

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