Effective Practices for Helping Students with Neurodiversity Transition to Independent Living
- Ngonidzashe Mpofu, Ngonidzashe MpofuUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
- Elias M. Machina, Elias M. MachinaUniversity of North Texas
- Helen Dunbar-Krige, Helen Dunbar-KrigeUniversity of Johannesburg
- Elias MpofuElias MpofuUniversity of North Texas, University of Johannesburg, and University of Sydney
- and Timothy TanseyTimothy TanseyUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
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.