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Youth and Young Adults

What is the issue?

Young people with developmental disabilities (DD) have a difficult time making the transition into adult health care services. In addition, for those who need mental health services, it can be especially tough. The different parts of the health care system often don't work together in a coordinated way. This makes the system difficult to navigate. Not receiving timely health care can also make a young person's problems worse. We know that youth with DD visit emergency rooms more often than others and have higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization than youth without disabilities.

More research on the factors that lead to these high rates is needed both at the individual and system level.

How is H-CARDD helping?

The H-CARDD program aims to understand what leads to good health care for youth with DD and what gets in the way. Our research looks at:

  • Changes in the percentage of young people who access family doctors, pediatricians, mental health care, and hospital services across the years spanning their 14th birthday (before the transition into adult services) and their 24th (after the transition); and
  • The different factors that lead to the use of emergency departments and psychiatric hospitalizations for transition-age youth with DD.

The H-CARDD program is in keeping with Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario's Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which emphasizes the need to provide vulnerable youth, such as those with DD, with timely access to an integrated system of coordinated care.

For more information, please contact:

Barry Isaacs, PhD
Director Research, Evaluation and Education, Surrey Place Centre
Phone: 416 925 2169, Ext. 3120

Jonathan Weiss, PhD, C.Psych
Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, York University
Phone: 416 736 2100, Ext. 55891


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H-CARDD Conversations

Learn what experts, Dr. Khush Amaria from the Hospital for Sick Children, Good 2 Go Transition Program and Dr. Melanie Penner from Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation, Autism Research Centre say about this research.

Read the full interview and join the conversation.

More information

Summary: get a quick overview of this study in the research snapshot Health and Health Service Use of Young Adults with Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Snapshots are easy to understand two page summaries of H-CARDD research findings. 

Publications: for scientific journal publications about H-CARDD research, please visit our knowledge exchange section.

Recently published: Health concerns and health service utlization in a population cohort of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder  

Health and health service use of youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Webinars: watch a presentation Health of Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities Across Ontario. Presented to the Candian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC), March 2016.

Watch a Town Hall presentation Health and Health Service Use in Transition Age Youth with Developmental Disabilities, December 2014.

Health care tools: The Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Initiative (DDPCI) at Surrey Place Centre (Toronto) created a list of health care transition tools and resources for families and caregivers of youth with developmental disabilities. Download the transition skills and resources toolkit. It describes what steps to take for a successful transition from paediatric to adult healthcare and provides useful tools such as checklists, care plans, and health summaries.