As children complete high school, often there are expectations of independence and decisions to make on their next steps. This transition can be difficult for anyone, especially those with mental retardation. There are many decisions for them to make from this point on, such as living, employment, extra training, and social decisions. Throughout the rest of their life, they face many choices. The following paper will discuss their needs and provide ideas on how the community can help these individuals to be successful.
The congress has set up four big goals aimed to make adult-life more accommodating for those with disabilities (ADA). These goals include: equal opportunity, independence, inclusion, and productivity (ADA). Equal opportunity includes the chance for those in the United States with disabilities to get higher educations and the chance to live the ideal American life (ADA). Independence includes the right for those with disabilities to make their own decisions and assert control over themselves and their environment (ADA). Inclusion includes the right of those with disabilities to have full participation as a citizen in the U.S. with access to the same community resources, activities, and shelter that their non-disabled peers have access to (ADA). The congress’ idea of productivity includes the right of individuals with disabilities to have jobs where they contribute to their own financial standing, as well as, their families and community (ADA). With these ideals in mind, those with mental retardation have opportunities available to them that are in context with their own limitations.
At eighteen years of age, most individuals gain legal independence, however, if a parent chooses to challenge this, the individual’s rights can be overturned due to mentally competency. If the individual with mental retardation receive independence, they have many choices to make. According to Turnbull, Turnbull, Shank, Smith, and Leal (2002), 2.5 percent of individuals with mental retardation enroll in postsecondary academic programs after high school, 5.7 percent enroll in post secondary vocational programs after high school, 40.8 percent become competitively employed, 14.8 percent live independently, and they earn 8,274 dollars as average annual compensation for workers.
Many factors contribute to the success of Adults with mental retardation. They include self-determination, community resources, and social adaptation. As they go through school and therapy, they are often preparing for life after school. Once they get to the point of adult standing, they need to be able to make decisions, enquire on needs, and search for resources. They need to be able to keep appointments, go to the doctors, take medicine, get groceries, keep hygiene, and live through daily transitions. If they are unable to do any of these things, they need to ask for the resources and/or get the appropriate services.
It is important for these individuals to receive support through verbal confirmation and physical resources during their high school to young adult transition and throughout their adult life. The community can provide ongoing services for those that need continued therapies. They can also provide accessible resources, such as job placement, social opportunities, and reference material for those with mental retardation. As a community resource, it is important to find what is appropriate for the individual as each is different. It may be helpful to have specific counselors in their last semester at school to go through their options with them. They might also need ongoing caseworkers that check-in on them yearly to make sure they are getting the services they desire. These caseworkers can also help the individuals in service to find job opportunities, social events, and answers to their other questions. They can give them referrals to the organizations that those in service have not been able to find for themselves. Some individuals with mental retardation may require supervision for some activities, like cooking, so ongoing respite may be necessary. The ongoing respite can also help those individuals to feel more independent, as they can live on their own terms with workers that help when necessary. This resource along with the other one’s desired by the person in service can help the individual with mental retardation find success in living a fulfilling life.
Each person with a disability is different. They merely suffer from a common disability, such as mental retardation, but in fact are they themselves individuals with their own wants and desires. It is important for us as teachers, caseworkers, families, and other providers to support them in defining their own life. It is important to prepare them for the steps they take and then support them throughout their adventure.
The Americans with Disabilities Act. (n.d.) Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Retrieved December 4, 2005, from www.ada.gov
Turnbull, Rud, Ann Turnbull, Marilyn Shank, Sean Smith, & Dorthy Leal (2002). Exceptional Lives: Special Education in Today’s Schools(3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.