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Wednesday 22 Nov 2017

Helping Young Adults Access Supports in Adulthood


Carolyn Hughes, from the Department of Special Educations at Vanderbilt, and her colleagues have proposed a Transition Support Model based on collaborative research with the community of researchers and practitioners involved in working with individuals with developmental delays including autism. Within their model there are two main goals: “developing support in the environment and increasing student competence”. The details of this model are published in their book The Transition Handbook. Here are the basics of the model they’ve developed.

The two main goals for teacher and parents of individuals with disabilities when considering a transition plan are (1) developing support in the environment and (2) increasing student competence. These two things combined are vital to the success of individuals as they transition to adulthood and out of high school.

Developing support in the environment includes promoting social acceptance, increasing environmental support and increasing social support. Social acceptance can be promoted through actively promoting “acceptance of students as equal members in employment, general education and community settings”. This can be accomplished through parents and teachers teaching members of these communities and modeling what it means to accept those with difference in meaningful ways. There are many supports naturally available within the environment. Parents and teachers need to work together to identify these supports and teach individuals to use them. To help increase social supports, Dr. Hughes suggest that parents and teachers ” visit, observe and analyze an environment as well as communicate and collaborate with important others” so they can better understand what social supports are currently available so they can teach students how to access these available social supports.

Increasing a student’s competence includes identifying and promoting student’s strengths, increasing student’s self-determination, increasing student’s choice and decision making, and promoting student’s social interactions. Strengths can be identified through observation, assessment and collaboration with important people in an individual’s life. These strengths can be used to help teach other skills. Self-determination in individuals with disabilities, their ability to advocate for themselves, is many times very low. This is a skill which needs to be taught and supported throughout an individual’s life so they’re not dependent on others making all their decisions for them. In addition to self-determination, the individual’s ability to make choices and make decisions independently. All three of these are vital life skills. Finally, social interactions should be promoted and supported as much as possible. Throughout an individual’s life, they need to be given the opportunity to interact with other members of the community so they are able to learn the skills necessary to support their success in “social, employment and civic” interests. Without these skills, individuals are less likely to find success and be accepted into the community.

Resources: Hughes, C. (2001) Transition to Adulthood: Supporting Young Adults to Access Social, Employment and Civic Pursuits. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews.

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