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College, Independence Hurdles For Young Adults With Disabilities


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Young adults with disabilities are less likely to participate in traditional rights of passage like going to college or living independently than their typically developing peers, new research indicates.

In the six years following high school, just 55 percent of those with disabilities continued their education compared to 62 percent of those without special needs.

Moreover, 36 percent said they lived alone, with a partner or roommate, as opposed to living with their parents. That compared to 44 percent of those without disabilities who said they lived independently.

The findings come from a report released this month by the National Center for Special Education Research, a division of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. It’s based on data from a 10-year study of more than 11,000 students with disabilities from across the nation who were ages 13 to 16 and receiving special education services in December 2000.

Researchers looked specifically at students who had completed high school by 2007 when the students or their parents were surveyed. They found great disparities between the achievements of students with and without disabilities, but also noted significant differences amongst students depending on the type of disability they had.

Students with hearing or visual impairments, for example, were much more likely to attend a postsecondary education program than those with autism or intellectual disability.

Similarly, while 71 percent of those with and without disabilities said they had a paying job outside of the house, the employment situation varied depending on the severity of a person’s disability. Among those with multiple disabilities, autism or intellectual disability, only about 45 percent said they were working and their wages were the lowest of any group.

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Comments (2 Responses)

  1. suelowery says:

    I wish the study had included some “whys” instead of just numbers. Do they not continue their education because the programs are not offered, or the help is not there? Do they not go into college programs because of the expense? Do they have many fewer scholarships available to them than hearing or visually impaired? Do they live with parents because there is no appropriate housing choices available to them. Interesting study, but didn’t answer so many questions.

  2. says:

    Wow! This story is very telling and I can certainly relate to it. I was injured during the summer right after my first year of college. At eighteen years old it was difficult to make the adjustment to life with an SCI but luckily I had my family. I wish I could have returned to G.S.U.but unfortunately the campus had no accommodations for disabled students nor did they have any disabled students organization to speak of at the time. I ended up going to school at home and changing majors. I needed help from Voc Rehab and they were adamant about not paying for me to attend school as an engineering student. At the time there was a big push to move us all into social services and so I ended up with a criminal justice degree. I wanted to be a civil engineer but according to vr there was no way possible. I feel it’s extremely important for disabled students to be advised of all their options and have periodic counseling throughout their education.

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