16 to 30 years

It can be a very worrying time for any parent – your child is getting older and you know that one day soon they will leave home. Are they ready for it? Are you ready for it? Will they cope with the essentials of daily living – buying food and cooking it; getting themselves up and off to work or study; will they manage to keep their clothes washed and ready to wear? We all worry a bit – here are some ideas which we hope will help you to worry less….

Launching into Young Adulthood with ADHD… Ready or Not! is full of guidance and strategies to help your preteens and teens develop the key life skills necessary for the adult world and identify potential vocational interests and career paths before graduation. Here’s what they have to say… When our gifted son with ADHD was struggling in high school, my husband and I worried: would he ever graduate, ever get a job, or ever live independently?

Many of you may be wondering the same thing about your high school student. But I have good news for you. Your teen will continue maturing into their 30s and 40s. Today our son is happily married and has a job that he loves. Find out more here.

Help, my ADHD Teenager is becoming an ADHD Adult! Find out more here

Does your 18-year-old still need to finish school?
Under the Flemish education system, approximately 13% of adults left secondary school without a School Leaving Diploma (2007 figure). The Flemish government has made sure that it is possible for adults to study at secundair volwassenenonderwijs“ and complete their school leaving certificate in the Dutch-language system.  This can be part-time, and subjects that were passed in Flemish compulsory education are taken into account.  

If you are looking for ways to complete your secondary education, this is helpful advice in Dutch here and here in French.

Vocational Secondary Education (Dutch: Beroepssecundair Onderwijs; BSO; French: Enseignement Secondaire professional): Very practical and very job-specific education. Afterward, several directions offer 7th, sometimes 8th, specialisation years. Possible directions include carpentry, car mechanics, jewelry or masonry. BSO is the only type of secondary education that does not qualify students to pursue higher education. If the student chooses to follow the optional 7th (and sometimes 8th) year, they will receive a diploma of the same level as a TSO diploma, which does allow them to pursue higher education.

Going to University
In Belgium many students do not go to another city to study but continue to live at home. Even if your son or daughter does move to another city, they are still cushioned by being with other young people of a similar age, and often come home at the weekends, bringing their washing… Here is some advice about college life as a neurodivergent student Be sure to advise your daughter or son to tell the University about their neurodivergent condition(s) and to ask what help is available.

Flanders’ (Dutch language) higher education is separated between universities (5 universities, universiteiten) and university colleges (hogescholen).   The French Community organises higher education in universities (6 universities), but makes a difference between the two types of schools that make up university colleges: Hautes écoles and Écoles supérieures des Arts (a limited number of artistic institutions allowed to process selection of incoming students).

In Belgium, anybody with a qualifying diploma of secondary education is free to enroll at any institute of higher education of their choosing.

The 4 major exceptions to this rule are those wanting to pursue a degree in: Medicine/Dentistry, Arts (e.g. painting, sculpture and music), Engineering Sciences, and Management Sciences.

The higher education system in Belgium follows the:

  • Bachelor (3 years) (180 ECTS) of Bachelor’s studies (French: baccalauréat; Dutch: bacheloropleiding).
  • Master system (1 or 2 years) (60 or 120 ECTS) of Master’s studies.
  • Manama’s (Flemish Community) or Masters de spécialisation (French Community)  exist in universities and are specialisation degrees offered after a master’s degree.
  • After obtaining a master’s degree, talented students can pursue research projects leading to a doctorate degree. PhDs are only awarded by universities, but these can be written at university colleges or art schools, in collaboration with and published by a university.

Apprenticeships – are available from 15/16 (to 25 years) in Belgian schools
Some secondary school students prefer to take a job at the earliest opportunity and opt for an apprenticeship or training that alternates between the practical aspects of a trade, whilst continuing with school.

This type of alternating secondary education and work is available from 16 years of age (15 years of age if the student has followed a second full year of secondary education) up to 25 years of age.

A training plan is drawn up with an approved training centre, which is also responsible for providing theoretical training and supporting the student’s integration into social and working life. The Brussels-Capital Region is home to various training centres, teaching in French or Dutch.

For French speakers in Brussels

This education is organised by

  1. ’Centre d’Education et de Formation en Alternance’, attached to a secondary school, CEFA, Alternating Training and Education Centre (FR)
  2. Espace Formation PME for apprenticeships (FR).

For Dutch speakers

This type of education may be organised within the framework of

  1. part-time vocational secondary education (DBSO) (NL), at a ‘Centrum voor Deeltijds Onderwijs’ (CDO, Centre for Part-time Education)
  2. or through Syntra Brussel (NL). Syntra also runs a comprehensive website on the apprenticeship system: www.leertijd.be (NL).

The Flemish Community’s education portal provides comprehensive information on secondary alternating education.

The EU is encouraging and promoting apprenticeships. Europe needs more workers with practical skills and qualifications. In an apprenticeship, you develop the skills that employers are looking for, which will make you more employable.

Voluntary work
Especially for younger autistic people, there are a number of opportunities for voluntary work to gain work experience.  These are often open to other neurodivergent young people if you approach the organisers. Find out more here.

Finding a first job
There are a number of job agencies specialising in finding work for neurodivergent employees – especially autistic employees. But we don’t know if any of these agencies are neurodivergent-led.

Living independently
Find out more here.


Saskia Smet
Job Coach

Saskia Elswick
ADHD Coach

Cissi Hanson
ADHD Coach

Jo Morton-Brown
Flourish on YouTube – mental health for teens

Katherine Jennick
‘What’s Your Strength?’ Careers cards


Jeanine Crombé
EFT (Tapping) Professional

Patty Truong
Body Talk
In BodyTalk, we have developed a whole-healthcare system that supports and promotes the well-being of any person.

Angela Haren
Art Therapy

Benoit Lombaerts
– Vision Therapy



Rhi Lloyd-Williams
Poet,  Playwright, Essayist, Educator and Public Speaker.
Autism & Self Care – Rhi  is co-founder of AutismHWB.com

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You will find a collection of writings and ideas about self-care, which is aimed at teens and adults.

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We often find that it’s not what children and teens learn in school that counts, but what they learn out of school.

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Neurodivergent as parents

Collection of ideas and articles around parenting (especially motherhood, as the author, is a mother, not a father).

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