Transition Planning for Youths With Disabilities

Transition planning for youth with disabilities plays a key role in students’ preparation for adult life.  Unfortunately, transition planning for some students, especially those with learning disabilities (LD) and emotional-behaviour disorder (EBD), has lagged behind that of other students.  This may be the result of several factors.  For students with LD, there is a misperception that these disabilities are always mild in nature, and these students need little assistance as they transition for secondary school to adult life.  The majority of students with LD spend much of their time in general education classes in which little attention is devoted to transition (Sitlington, 2008).  Students with EBD often present a more complex picture to educators, needing “multi-faceted ad cohesive programming to effectively meet multiple needs” (Lehr & McComas, 2005, p. 2), which can be challenging.  As well, educators tend to focus on students’ immediate needs (e.g. staying out of trouble) often neglecting planning for the future.

The result of outcomes suggests that students with LD and EBD need more focused, explicit, and individualised secondary programs to improve their post school outcomes.  These individuals frequently experience problems related to employment (i.e. low wages, underemployment dissatisfaction, and frequent job changes), participation and success in post-secondary settings, participation and success in postsecondary settings, participation in community and leisure activities, and dependency on parents and others in young adulthood (Benz, Lindstrom & Yovanoffm 2000; Scanlon & Mellard, 2002). For example, the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS-2) measured employment for students with LD and EBD post-high school.  Results indicate that, at the time of the interview for the study, approximately 64% of youth with LD who had left high school were employed for pay outside the home, and approximately 42% of youth with EBD were employed; this contrasts with figures for youth with disabilities whose employment rate was 66% (Newman, Wagner, Cameto & Knokey, 2009).  Although the employment rate for individuals with LD approximates that of the general youth population, NLTS-2 data reveal that youth with LD and EBD retain their jobs for shorter periods of time (Newman et al., 2009).  Furthermore, Newman et al. (2011) reports that youth with disabilities are less likely to enrol in post-secondary education (60% vs. 67%) and live independently (45% vs. 59%).  Only 11% of students with EBD had enrolled in 4 year colleges or universities after an 8 year period, as opposed to an overall 60% rate of students representing all disability categories.


These young adult outcomes suggest that although many youth with LD and EBD are  now exiting secondary school with the skills, supports and linkages they need to achieve their post-school goals, a substantial number still exhibit significant difficulties (Carter, Trainor, Sun & Owens, 2009; Osgood, Foster, Flanagan, & Ruth, 2007).

Reference:    Intervention in school and clinic, volume 48, number 1; Hammill Institute on Disabilities;

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