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Parents and special education professionals have realized the importance of post-secondary education for students with disabilities, including those with developmental disabilities. Post-secondary education has been the one that individuals with disabilities are less likely to pursue in comparison with non-disabled individuals. The importance of post-secondary education is not only its close correlation with successful employment resulting in higher paying positions with upward mobility and benefits, but also its impacts on enhanced self-esteem and friendship building. Most of all, through post-secondary education, individuals develop leadership qualities, which individuals with developmental disabilities need in order to successfully advocate for their rights. Post-secondary education should be approached in terms of life-long learning. Everyone should have equal and appropriate post-secondary education opportunities.
Most necessary prerequisite skills for post-secondary education are:
1. They must have a post-secondary goal in their ITP and prepare one step at a time. This does not only include academic requirements. Students with disabilities need to learn related skills, such as study skills, time management, scheduling, test taking skills, self-management in order to be successful in post-secondary education settings.
2. Once students leave the public school system, they no longer qualify for benefits provided by IDEA . In post-secondary education institutes, these individuals must locate necessary support and accommodation services and advocate for themselves. Therefore, it is critical for them to master skills such as problem solving, effective communication, and self-determination including self-advocacy .
3. Before leaving public school, students and their parents must build an inter-agency linkage. They need to collaborate with Special Education teachers to bring professionals from Regional Center , Department of Rehabilitation , and the Office for Students with Disabilities of the post-secondary education institute of your interest. During the ITP meeting, you can plan according to the available services with other parties and discuss possible accommodations before graduation.
Post-secondary education includes the following, but is not limited to: Adult Schools, Occupational Centers, 2-year Colleges, and 4-year Colleges.
Post-secondary education opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities are generally categorized by the following three types of services.
1. Some school districts lease the classroom at 2-year community colleges in order to provide active interaction and full inclusion with non-disabled peers of the same age group (18-22 years olds). Although all classes in the college campuses are operated by special education program of the local public schools, independently from the affiliated college, students in these college campus programs are allowed to take college courses. For further information regarding where these classes are, please contact the school district or your child’s special education teacher.
• Los Angeles County of Education & Mount St. Antonio Community College
2. Most post-secondary education institutes provide the necessary accommodations through the office for students with disabilities. Some community colleges offer GED courses for those who haven’t completed their high school diploma, and many prerequisite courses to help those who need extra knowledge before they take college-level courses. Browse local community college website for more information.
• Glendale Community College
• Pasadena City College
• Santa Monica Community College
3. Some 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges have been developing post-secondary education programs specifically targeted toward students with developmental disabilities. Although they are segregated programs in the general college campuses, they provide a great opportunity for those with developmental disabilities to build independence, career development, and self-esteem.
• Taft Community College: Transition to Independent Living (TIL) Program
• UCLA: PATHWAY Program