Recent research suggests that students with disabilities have more success after leaving school if they are taught to set their own goals, learn to travel independently, and have parents who encourage financial autonomy. But are there other factors at play as well?
Valerie Mazzotti, Dawn Rowe, and James Sinclair, researchers at the University of Oregon, conducted a review of eleven studies published between 2009 and 2014. Their goal was to examine the factors that lead to post-school success and determine how to clarify or expand upon them. Some of the previously identified factors are social skills, inclusion, and employment experience.
One benefit of the review is that it helped to narrow down the very broad category of “self-advocacy.” This term has historically been loosely defined, with little explanation regarding practical applications. The review identifies and examines concrete ways that parents and teachers can encourage students to be more independent.
“We have to think about how we support parents in having high expectations,” said Rowe.
However, The review also uncovered several limitations in the research. For example, the studies looked almost exclusively at white males (70%), leaving out a large portion of the population. Differences in success factors for females and students of a different race or socioeconomic status remain to be seen.
Also missing from the research is whether the results are more significant for students in certain disability categories over others. Students who have autism may need entirely different success strategies than those with an emotional or behavioral disorder, for example.
Some effects noted in the research could be a result of the severity of the student’s disability, not necessarily the factors in the study. For example, a student whose parents have high expectations might be more likely to travel independently and have a job; but it is also true that students with mild disabilities have more job opportunities than those with more severe disabilities. It is difficult to know how much of the student’s success is due to having a mild disability and how much is due to high expectations from parents.
Though the three factors studied (goal-setting, independent travel, and financial autonomy) do seem to be important for students with disabilities, it appears more research is needed in order to determine whether student success is really impacted by these measures alone or if other factors are at work (e.g. gender, socioeconomic status, disability category and severity)
Going forward, teachers and parents can certainly use these tips as guidelines for fostering independence, as they could be important factors for any student’s success. As far as research is concerned, however, this seems to be an area where more research would be beneficial to help determine which factors are the most important for student success. Again flip back to positive close
What do you think are important factors for post-school success? Share your ideas in the comments below!