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Article

Michael Shevlin, John Kubiak, Mary-Ann O'Donovan, Marie Devitt, Barbara Ringwood, Des Aston, and Conor McGuckin

People with disabilities have been among the most marginalized groups within society, with consequent limitations imposed on their access to many goods within society, including education, employment, and economic independence. Some progress is evident in the establishment of more inclusive learning environments, yet it is also clear that upon leaving compulsory education or further/higher education, young people with disabilities encounter significant barriers to accessing meaningful employment. Facilitating transitions to employment for people with disabilities should be informed by ambition and a belief in the capacity of these individuals to make a meaningful contribution to society and achieve a level of economic independence. The issues that are pertinent to young people who have a special educational need or a disability and an aspiration to transition to further/higher education require attention. Research and applied practice has demonstrated the utility of an innovative educational and work readiness program for people with an intellectual disability. Such work highlights the facilitating factors that may encourage a more ambitious reimagining of what may be possible for individuals who have been marginalized.

Article

Ngonidzashe Mpofu, Elias M. Machina, Helen Dunbar-Krige, Elias Mpofu, and Timothy Tansey

School-to-community living transition programs aim to support students with neurodiversity to achieve productive community living and participation, including employment, leisure and recreation, learning and knowledge acquisition, interpersonal relationships, and self-care. Neurodiversity refers to variations in ability on the spectrum of human neurocognitive functioning explained by typicality in brain activity and related behavioral predispositions. Students with neurodiversity are three to five times more likely to experience community living and participation disparities as well as lack of social inequity compared to their typically developing peers. School-to-community transition programs for students with neurodiversity are implemented collaboratively by schools, families of students, state and federal agencies, and the students’ allies in the community. Each student with neurodiversity is unique in his or her school-to-community transition support needs. For that reason, school-to-community transition programs for students with neurodiversity should address the student’s unique community living and participation support needs. These programs address modifiable personal factors of the student with neurodiversity important for successful community living, such as communication skills, self-agency, and self-advocacy. They also address environmental barriers to community living and participation premised on disability related differences, including lack of equity in community supports with neurodiversity. The more successful school-to-community living transition programs for students with neurodiversity are those that adopt a social justice approach to full community inclusion.

Article

A rich literature on family-professional collaboration with families and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities has developed in the United States. This literature identifies key barriers that impede family-professional relationships including deficit-based perceptions of families and children with disabilities, narrow definitions of “family” that limit the participation of some members such as fathers or grandparents, and historical biases that constrain the participation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families. Principles for building collaborative relationships with families include honoring the strengths of the family, presuming competence in the child and the family, valuing broad definitions of “family,” and understanding the ecology of family routines and rituals. Practices that help facilitate family-professional relationships are building reciprocal partnerships with various caregivers in the family including fathers as well as extended family members, adopting a posture of cultural reciprocity, using a variety of modes of communication with families, and involving families in all aspects of the special education process such as assessment, planning, prioritizing of skills, and identification of interventions. Pivotal moments in the family’s journey through their child’s schooling, including early intervention and transition to post-school environments, provide opportunities to build and strengthen family-professional relationships. Each of these moments has the potential to involve families in a variety of processes including assessment, planning, and articulating the goals and vision for their child/youth. A focus on strengths, collaborative partnerships, and family agency and voice is at the core of strong family-professional relationships.