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An Overview of Adults With Special Needs

Adults with special needs are individuals over the age of 18 who have a medical condition or disability. People in this group may include:

  • A spouse with a chronic illness or an acquired disability
  • A child with a developmental disorder transitioning to adulthood
  • A family member over 21 years of age with complex needs and who requires assistance to live on his or her own

Supporting adult family members with complex needs may involve collaboration with a variety of support systems and community-based services. Assistance may include access to nonclinical case management, referrals to mental health services and public benefits.

The adult child with special needs

An adult child with special needs:

  • May receive academic services through an individualized education program, or IEP
  • May require transition support as he or she reaches the age of majority
  • May remain under guardianship or incapacitated adult status
  • May require assistance to live on his or her own

The adult with an acquired special need

Adults with acquired special needs:

  • May have been diagnosed with an illness or disability after reaching adulthood
  • May require the same resources provided for lifelong disability

Military resources and support

There are a number of military programs and resources available to support service members as they carry out their duties. These programs and resources include:

Equal opportunity for individuals with special needs

Civilian and military advocates, who worked to bring about legal, medical and social changes to address the needs of individuals with special needs, have paved the way for improved services and resources in many areas. These groups have encouraged the passage of three important laws:

For more information about how to receive assistance, visit the Department of Health and Human Services website.

Independent living

Support for managing daily life is available to military families. Service members can receive assistance in the following ways:

To find more resources and information to support your family member with special needs, download the Department of Defense Guide for Adults With Special Needs.

Military OneSource special needs consultants can answer your questions and concerns about the care and education of your child or adult family member with special needs. Call us at 800-342-9647.