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SNN Shares: Transitioning to Adulthood

26 October 2019, Skadden, Central

What do you think about when you see the word “adulthood”? Turning 18? Leaving school? Independent living? For young people with disabilities this may not be the complete picture. 

On 26 October, parents and professionals gathered together for SNN Shares: Transitioning to Adulthood. Our panel of speakers - Dr. Simon Ng, Ms. Lilian Ma, Ms Lindsay Ernst and Ms. Amy Fernando - spoke in this half-day workshop about how parents can approach their children’s transition into adulthood. Like our previous SNN Shares events, most of the speakers are parents of children with special needs and disabilities. We also hosted representatives from Hong Kong organisations providing educational programmes for young adults with disabilities, and supporting employment of people with disabilities. 

Topics discussed included the legal framework in Hong Kong for supporting young adults with disabilities, and how countries around the world should embrace the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as well as practical matters such as estate planning, and post-school educational and vocational options. 

We live in a society where parents may feel they are constantly being told the correct way of parenting. If a child has a disability, parents are supposed to help “fix the problem” (the child), so the child can better fit into society. Seldom do parents give themselves the space to ask why this should be so. Our speakers introduced the concept of a person-centred approach to disability and guided us to put our children at the centre of discussions and plans for their future. Whatever a person’s disability, we should encourage communities to recognise that disabled people are valued members of society. Let’s ask for reasonable adjustments to be made to accommodate people who are differently abled and equally deserving of fair treatment. 

My main takeaway from the talk is that while, on the one hand, we as parents should think of our children as individual human beings with their own right to education, employment, access to healthcare and legal protection, and the right to participate effectively in the society, on the other hand, we also need to use our creativity and flexibility to advocate for our children and provide them with the best support we can. Parents inevitably play an important role in a disabled child’s journey into adulthood. But, as we plan ahead, we need to accept the reality that we may pass away before our children and, hence, we should think about the future financial arrangements for our children’s care. 

That being said, I think we can all acknowledge that it takes more than just the family unit to bring about a smooth transition. Networks providing support, such as SNNHK, can be valuable assets at such a time. We hope our participants all enjoyed the event and left feeling informed and empowered. 

We look forward to seeing you at our Christmas social on Thursday, 12 December 2019.

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