Postsecondary Education Options for Individuals with intellectual Disability

Date of Completion

January 2011


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special




This study examined practices in supporting adults with intellectual disability (ID) to participate in regular college classes at two and four-year colleges and universities. Other factors investigated included identifying the characteristics of institutions supporting adults with ID, as well as the characteristics of institutions that did not. Respondents from institutions not supporting adults with ID reported on future plans to do so; those reporting such plans provided specifics; those declining plans provided reasons for not doing so. ^ A web-based electronic survey was developed and piloted by the researcher prior to the final study. The sample for both the pilot and final survey was taken from the membership of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and consisted of those members identified as leaders (i.e. directors, coordinators) of the office for students with disabilities (OSD) at the institution that they represented.^ Findings of the study revealed that small numbers of adults with ID were taking regular college classes at institutions across the country and were using the same generic supports offered to any student with a qualifying disability through the OSD. Two-year institutions reported the presence of adults with ID in regular college classes at a rate that was statistically significantly higher than four-year institutions. The most commonly reported supports provided by the OSD were tutoring and counseling, and adults with ID were reported to take classes for both credit and non-credit. Very few institutions were reported to support adults with ID through specialized programs. ^ A small number of institutions were reported to be planning to support adults with ID in the near future. Of those institutions, all were four-year institutions developing specialized programs as the means of support. Reasons for not planning to support adults with ID were reported.^ Previous studies examining the PSE experiences of individuals with ID have predominantly focused on students under the domain of public education with supports provided by the school district. The findings of this study demonstrate the option for adults with ID who have exited public education to attend college by accessing supports offered to students with disabilities through the OSD. ^