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How to Get Support if You’re a Youth With a Disability

There are all kinds of disabilities. Maybe you are hard of hearing or use a wheelchair. Maybe you have a learning disability or a mental health issue. Whatever your disability, supports are available. But they may be different before and after you turn 18.

Discover what you can do now so that you can head into adult life with all the help you need.

Jump to:

What to do before you turn 18

As soon as you can, get your disability documented. That means it has been diagnosed and recorded. This will help you qualify for programs and supports, although not all of them will need it. To do this, see your doctor or find one here.

If you think you have a learning disability, talk to your teacher or guidance counsellor. If you wait until after high school, you will have to pay to be tested. While you are still in school, it’s free.

Once you are diagnosed, you can apply for support at post-secondary schools.

Some agencies can help you find what you need when you turn 18. Call 211 or visit 211 Alberta. On the website, choose your location, then type “disability transition supports” into the Keyword Search box.

This planning guide can show your parents or other support people how to help you move smoothly into adult life. They may also set up a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) for you. This can be done at any time until you turn 60.

If you’ve been in care of Children’s Services

You may be able to get support and resources. Contact your caseworker to find out.

  • Don’t remember your caseworker’s name? Call the office you used to go to.
  • Live in a different town or region? Find your local office.

What to do after you turn 18

Becoming an adult opens the door to a lot of new choices. The right information can help you make these choices. Here are some resources:

If you want more education

Continuing your schooling is a great way to get the skills you need. Check out these resources:

If you want to start working

Let’s face it: no one can do everything. And many employers now see that it’s better to focus on what a person can do—their skills—than what they can’t do. Still, having a disability means you may have extra things to think about. These resources may help:

Once you start working, make sure you apply for the federal government’s disability tax credit (DTC).

If you have a significant developmental disability, consider your options for inclusive employment and self-employment.

Exploring Self-Employment Opportunities for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (5:25)

This video describes the value of being self-employed for people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers. It highlights 3 successful businesses and how they got started.

If your disability is very limiting

Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) offers help to adults with disabilities. The disability must be permanent and severely limit your ability to earn a living.

Resources for specific disabilities

211 Alberta lists resources from Adult Day Programs to Transportation/Parking Permits under its Disability Supports icon. You can also find programs for specific disabilities. Type “autism,” “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder,” or other topics in the keyword search to find resources that can help you.

informAlberta provides the same type of service. You can type “disability” or the name of a specific disability into its keyword search.

Find more resources

Check out:

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