Early Links Supporting Inclusion

Supporting teens and young adults

Supporting teens and young adults
Stephanie OT Senior Leader

By Stephanie Thomson

Occupational Therapy Senior Leader


Early Links has been providing support for Hunter families since 1988. Although initially founded to provide early intervention services, Early Links has evolved to provide therapy and support services to clients as they grow up, and now offers a range of services aimed at teens and young adults.

How can Early Links support teen and young adult clients?

Early Links can support teens and young adults to improve connection, participation and engagement. So – what does this look like? Firstly, we listen. A therapist or social worker will be assigned to meet with you and your family to discuss NDIS goals, interests, social activities and aspirations. 

 A team will be put together and may include allied health assistants, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians, art therapists, music therapists, behaviour support practitioners, psychologists and support workers as required.

What can NDIS goals look like?

For teens and young adults, the important goals in life are often developing social skills and friendships, increasing independence, and improving life skills. Short-term goals and strategies will have this focus for most teens and young adults. ​

 Once your goals have been set, we help you to break them down into the most important parts using evidence-based rating scales and goal-setting tools​. The team will then work with you and your family to develop a program to meet your goals​.

Social, Community and Economic Participation

Many teens and young adults with additional needs highly value socialising and participating in life like their peers. This includes forming and sustaining friendships, and looking for and getting a job.​ Your therapist/social worker will collaborate with the Support Worker Team to provide opportunities for learning new skills and practising these both in the community and with peers while being supported.​

Most teens and young adults would like the opportunity to get a job and earn money like their peers​. Early Links will support you with this goal by helping you to identify and learn the skills needed to be employed​. We will also support you in gaining experience that will help your employment journey and connect you to employment services.

If you have a goal of further study, Early Links will help you develop a plan to participate in the study pathway of your choice. This may include identifying barriers to participation, support to learn new skills, and support to attend and be included in education settings. At the end of each term, we will revisit your goals and set new ones for the next quarter.​ 

How is support different for teens and young adults than for children?

For children under 12 years old, the aim is to ensure that parents or primary caregivers can provide children with experiences and opportunities to help them gain the functional skills they need to participate meaningfully in their environment. The goals set for these clients are primarily family-centred. 

In contrast, when working with teens and young adults, the client determines the functional skills they would like to work on as goals and supports are established to maximise independence and autonomy. A person-centred approach is at the core of all supports, and clients are the agents of change in their own lives. Meaningful goals are those that reflect the client’s aspirations, rather than focusing on the minimisation of impairments or problems.   

What groups are available to teens and adults?

Our therapists will help you link with group activities within Early Links and the community​ to learn and practice skills. We run various groups designed specifically for teens and young adults, including Life Skills, Fun Factory, Job Readiness, Yoga, and Cooking. Early Links will also introduce some new groups in 2023, such as Strictly Social, a group for young adults that focuses on socialising with peers in the community. 

What activities can clients do in these groups?

Activities are selected according to the goals and preferences of clients in the groups and can include:

        • Planning and preparing meals
        • Arts and crafts
        • Geocaching
        • Catching public transport and accessing the community
        • Games, pool and table tennis, and ball games 
        • Excursions to exhibitions and museums
        • Silent discos
        • Rock climbing, yoga, trampolining, tenpin bowling, movies, aqua golf, and street art
        • Participating in structured life skills or job readiness workshops
        • Real-life experiential learning activities

Want to know more?

You can find out more about our teen and young adult programs by checking out our community events page or by contacting us using the form below.

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