Transition to adulthood

One of my favourite presentations at IASSID was by Krysti DeZonia, from the USA. Krysti presented her doctorate work looking at school to adult transition for people with PIMD. She asked parents and teachers, separately, how they conceptualised the person’s adult life. She also looked at the relationship between various expectations and the sort of reports people write.
Many of the parents and teachers thought that adult life was going to be sad, lonely, and hard, with a fear of students being warehoused, underchallenged, and unable to find appropriate supports. Parents’ priorities were for the person to have personal fulfilment, be with people who love them, and be part of life, not an observer. Whereas teachers were more about getting into services, and their in-class goals reflected laws and artifacts governing education. Given this different priorities the expressed goals in plans often did not match.
In her thesis, Krysti notes parents thoughts around the preferred activities of their transitioning child: “These varied depending on the child, but all children had activities that the parents believed bring them pleasure, and parents were not concerned about how functional or age appropriate these activities are” (p. 80).
This research has implications for families, educators, and for adult services. I work one day a week for adult services, and reading the despondency expressed by these parents and educators (although in USA), effected me. Firstly, are services giving the message to schools that all is not dark and horrible upon finishing school? Secondly, are services delivering on what people really want? In Krysti’s study parents “simply discussed their desire that their child has a place in the world where he is respected, happy, and loved”. Where are these priorities sitting in service provision?
I would love to see a study similar to this conducted in Australia looking at adults with PIMD in services.

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