Perspectives on poverty and governmental dependence likelihood regarding people with developmental disabilities when they transition into adulthood
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Transitioning from high school to adulthood is a momentous phase for students with developmental disabilities. However, when students with developmental disabilities exit secondary education, they face a high probability of being dependent on government support to live. This study delved into the roles families, social agencies, and secondary education systems play in formulating individuals with disabilities’ points of view regarding their capabilities to live independently without having to rely on governmental supports. The key research question explored the following: How do individuals with developmental disabilities, at two vital phases in their lives, internalize perceived explicit and ambiguous messages that secondary education institutions, their own families, and social service agencies send regarding their abilities to live independently above the poverty level? Four participants with developmental disabilities were qualitatively interviewed for this study. With the absence of a school personnel member who did not contribute to the study, one school personnel member, family member, and social service agency worker associated with each participant were interviewed as well. The themes derived from the data were: a) the construction of disability: reproducing or resisting societal descriptions of disability, b) overall resistant messages (or perceived messages) experienced by participants from schools regarding one’s disabilities and how families and social service agencies supported those messages, c) reproductive and resistant messages (or perceived messages) experienced by participants from schools regarding one’s disabilities and how families and social service agencies supported or did not those messages, and d) overall reproductive messages (or perceived messages) experienced by participants from schools regarding one’s disabilities and how families and social service agencies supported or did not support those messages. These themes demonstrated how a combination of reproduction, agency, construction of disability, and resistance shape the participants’ economic and governmental dependency statuses. One implication of this research is the positive influence it will possibly have on the practices of families, social service agencies, and secondary education systems regarding how they shape the beliefs of individuals with disabilities about self-reliance. Another implication of this research is its impact on future investigations on similar topics.