Change, made easy

by Tracey Francis, Policy and Development Worker at ARC Scotland

Sometimes it’s obvious that a young person’s transition is going to need careful planning because the challenges they are living with are very evident, and multiple professionals are already involved.

But what if the challenges aren’t so apparent to an outsider? On the surface, a young person may appear to be well capable of holding their own – yet without the right information, planning and support, many neurodivergent young people can find the journey to adult life bumpy.

Familiar things come to an end, along with established relationships, support you rely on and settings you are used to. All too often young people and families face a struggle to find the services and support they need.

National guidelines are clear: any young person at risk of not making a smooth transition should be able to expect support around preparation and planning. But for some young people it can be hard to access in practice. With Compass, when transitions planning is available it means everyone involved can make the best use of it. And if it isn’t, young people and families can find out what they need to take into account and where to start.

Compass was designed by ARC Scotland to help everyone understand the transitions process better, and find the best information at the right time for them. All three versions – for young people, for parents and carers, and for professionals – are tailored to the user, based on their responses to questions asked within the tool.

No diagnosis is needed, just a sense of what is impacting a young person’s life so Compass can provide information and create an individual “to do” list that is likely to be of use.
And because the transition to adult life isn’t a single event, such as leaving school, but a process that unfolds over several years, Compass points to information relevant well into the twenties.

Good planning should always put the young person firmly at the centre of their own transition. Working out what matters to them is the essential first step, and Compass helps young people think about the future holistically and share their thoughts with people they trust. For parents and carers, it creates a personalised transitions timeline that shows where they are in the process and points them to key actions at each stage so nothing is overlooked. The professional tool helps those working with young people and families to better understand their responsibilities and duties.

All three versions link to the best sources of information currently available, and are specific to Scotland.
Having clear information, at the right time and in the right way, has been shown to be a gamechanger in making transitions better for everyone involved. It can make all the difference to feeling you are in control of transitions, rather than them controlling you.

Last but not least, the other thing Compass does is collect direct feedback about experiences of transition and how things are going. This is completely anonymised, so no one – not even ARC Scotland – can identify individuals or families. Over time, this will be invaluable in providing vital information to help improve services and support in the future.

Anyone in Scotland can use Compass free of charge, whether your local authority area is using Principles into Practice or not. To sign up to the right version for you, go to: