A New Approach to Transition Planning for Transitional Aged Youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
The current study was designed to gain a greater understanding of how transition planning is being done in the Niagara Region, as per the Integrated Transition Protocol, and to examine the barriers to the enactment of this protocol in relation to youth participation and implementation. Further, the study focused on uncovering whether youth were better included in their transition plans since the implementation of the protocol, and on discovering ways to better include youth in the transition process overall. Through a pragmatic qualitative research design informed by the theory of emerging adulthood and by a social model of disability, the perspectives of 14 professionals were explored through questionnaires, focus groups, and individual interviews. From the collected data, the following themes were found: (1) there continue to be barriers that hinder youth participation and the successful implementation of the protocol; (2) professionals feel youth participation is important; however, families continue to play the primary role during the transition process, despite a reported disconnection between the hopes and dreams of the families and the youth; (3) transition planning and practicing meaningful participation need to begin earlier; (4) the transition ends when the protocol ends so there is a gap between children’s services and adult services, and the realities of adult services are unknown to many; (5) there are many benefits to integrated transition planning; (6) we must move past keeping youth “busy and safe” and ensure that they are participating in meaningful activities; and (7) it’s a new process, but the right process. These themes are discussed in terms of their implications for the current transition policy in the Niagara Region and elsewhere in Ontario so that the voices and dreams of youth with developmental disabilities are included and respected during the transition process in hopes of improving their post high school outcomes and overall quality of life.
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