Transitioning to Life as an Adult
Young adults with disabilities are less likely to take part in traditional rites of passage, such as living independently, going to college or getting a job. but that doesn’t have to be the case. Transitioning to life as an adult can be simple with the right plan.
Some things you may want to think about include:
- Caring for your own health and medical needs
- Attending college
- Getting a job
- Living away from home
- Getting around town
Transitioning to College
In college you will have more freedom than you did in high school -- and much more responsibility. You will have more control over your classes and daily schedule, buy your own books and you will have to establish any special requirements you might need for your disability.
As a student with a disability, you are protected from discrimination. Postsecondary schools cannot deny you admission because of a disability and must provide appropriate academic adjustments for your disability.
In addition, if your school provides housing for students it must provide comparable and appropriate housing for students with disabilities.
Academic adjustments are determined based on your individual needs, but may include things such as:
- Providing aids and services
- Reducing course load
- Substituting one course for another
- Providing note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters and/or extended time for testing
- School computers with screen-reading or voice recognition
It is your responsibility to tell your school that you have a disability in order to receive any necessary adjustments, and to ensure your school knows how best to accommodate you! Every school has a different procedure, so it’s best to start this process as early as possible.
Remember to focus on your strengths, and don’t compare yourself to others; everyone learns at a different pace.
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Finding a job
Finding a job can be difficult for anyone. Luckily there are many job-training and apprenticeship programs specifically designed for people with disabilities. These programs provide young adults with employment as the individual learns on the job.
For example, the HOPE services helps people with developmental disabilities to live and participate in their community. They provide similar services, such as:
- Job preparation: classes, resume building, interviewing skills
- Assessment: learn what interests you
- Temporary employment: try different jobs, gain skills, build your resume
- Job placement: provides support for the interview, application, and hiring process
- Follow-up support: assists with career growth and future changes
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Many people struggle for years with undiagnosed learning disabilities. If you think you might have a learning disability, don’t hesitate to seek help! If you’re in college, the majority of schools now have a resource center specifically for students with disabilities.
They have people and services available to consult with students about referrals for testing and how to obtain documentation.
Common types of learning disabilities include:
- Dyslexia: difficulty reading, writing, spelling and/or speaking
- Dyscalculia: difficulty doing math problems, understanding time and/or using money
- Dysgraphia: difficulty with handwriting, spelling, and/or organizing ideas
- Dyspraxia: difficulty with hand-eye coordination, balance and/or manual dexterity
- Dysphasia: difficulty understanding spoken language and/or poor reading comprehension
- Auditory processing disorder: difficulty hearing differences between sounds, difficulty with reading, comprehension and/or language
- Visual processing disorder: difficulty interpreting visual information, difficulty with reading, math, maps, charts, symbols and/or pictures
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Written By: Kristin Reese,
public health education intern
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: July 30, 2013
- "Prevalence and Most Common Causes of Disability Among Adults," MMWR, May 1, 2009 / 58(16);421-426:
- Disabilities, Medline Plus
- Transition Checklist for Young Adults with Disabilities