Facilitators: Jane Ring, Parent, carer support officer, LOOK UK and Andrea Salt LOOK Project Assistant.

Featuring: Alice Osborne, Children and young people’s enablement officer at Henshaws, LOOK Mentor Rachel, and expert parent Anna and her daughter Susie.

In January our themed Parent Support Group (PSG) met to discuss what support is out there to help our children live independent lives, what that support looks like and how to start planning for the future.

Expert parent Anna and her daughter Susie shared their journey from a specialist education setting to finding the right environment and support package to ensure as she moved into adulthood Susie could lead an independent life.

Our expert, Alice from Henshaws shared some fantastic resources and courses that focus on preparing young people to be more independent, covering topics from kitchen skills to social and emotional skills to health and safety.

We also heard from LOOK Mentor Rachel about her experience of moving to a new area, living an independent life and the barriers she has faced. She also provided some great tips on building independence which we have shared below.


You can watch the original session, here:

“I never considered that my child could live a more independent life, this session has given me hope.” Parent.

Tops Tips from expert parent Anna.

“Build the support around the child rather than fitting the child into a service that already exists”.

  • Give your child a voice – we would always ask Susie “who’s life is it”, giving your child a voice gives them the opportunity to make choices about their life.
  • Reframing and rethinking independence – Independence is not about being able to do it all yourself but having the choice to decide what happens and when.
  • Create the vision and identity the outcomes – As a parent identify what is it you want for your child in the future eg. happiness, to be healthy, to have opportunities and the ability to make life choices. Then clarify what support is needed for this to happen.
  • Bringing the professionals on board – Help the professionals and support teams to understand the vision for your child and that this vision is realistic, achievable, reasonable and therefore affordable.
  • Anna wrote a letter detailing her vision for Susie’s future and shared it with everyone that worked with her so they understood their hopes for Susie to live an independent life and were able to support her to do this. To read this letter please click HERE.

Top Tips for Building Independence.

  • Keep a routine, it helps prevent panic and stress.
  • Allow flexibility in your routine as you need to be resilient when changes happen.
  • Ensure the right support is in place so situations don’t end up scary and overwhelming.
  • If you have more than 1 disability it can make being independent quite difficult. Living by yourself and going out into the world requires a lot more thinking and planning.
  • Make sure you give your child the skills they need to live in the world, doing things for them is not good preparation.
  • Make sure you have time in your day and week to do nothing, as everyday tasks can be exhausting. Lie in a dark room and switch off completely so you can re-set.
  • Work out your limits and plan for what could go wrong.
  • Plan ahead for every situation.
  • Independence does not mean doing everything on your own. What independence looks like is different for everyone, we cannot always compare ourselves to others.
  • Make sure you have the aids and equipment that best suit your needs.
  • Creating a positive mindset through self-care, mindfulness and/or enjoyable activities – adopt an ‘I Can Do It’ mindset and push out of your comfort zone at your own pace.

Getting Prepared.

  • Every local authority has a Preparing for Adulthood team who should help and support you. Follow this website for more information.
  • Consider different opportunities that would suit the needs of your young person. Here are some examples.
  • Rainbow living is the charity that has supported Susie and enabled her to have a happy home that she shares with friends.
  • Work with your Local Authority Adult Social Care team.
  • This is a useful guide for exploring independent living options.


“This session gives me hope that I will be able to find a service that will help my child gain more independence” Parent.

For more useful articles, tips and advice, take a look at our Resources pages.