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Their Time Has Come

Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood

Valerie Leiter

Publication Year: 2012

The lives of youth with disabilities have changed radically in the past fifty years. Youth who are coming of age right now are the first generation to receive educational services throughout childhood and adolescence. Disability policies have opened up opportunities to youth, and they have responded by getting higher levels of education than ever before. Yet many youth are being left behind, compared to their peers without disabilities. Youth with disabilities often still face major obstacles to independence.In Their Time Has Come, Valerie Leiter argues that there are crucial missing links between federal disability policies and the lives of young people. Youth and their parents struggle to gather information about the resources that disability policies have created, and youth are not typically prepared to use their disability rights effectively. Her argument is based on thorough examination of federal disability policy and interviews with young people with disabilities, their parents, and rehabilitation professionals. Attention is given to the diversity of expectations, the resources available to them, and the impact of federal policy and public and private attitudes on their transition to adulthood.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Series in Childhood Studies

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

My profound thanks to the youths, parents, and professionals who told me about their experiences, and for their suggestions about how the transition to adulthood might be improved. Their words bring this book to life. I am also deeply grateful to the William T. Grant Foundation Scholars...

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1. A Crisis Situation?

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pp. 1-13

The current generation of youths with disabilities who are coming of age in the United States is the first to benefit from a wide range of disability programs and policies, from birth to adulthood. In the past fifty years, multiple federal disability policies have been created with the goal of...

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2. The Rules Have Changed

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pp. 14-26

One hundred years ago, a child born with a disability would have been kept at home and would have received no public services, or would have been placed in a public institution surrounded by others labeled as having similar disabilities. Such children became the responsibility of the state in...

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3. Participation and Voice

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pp. 27-50

In response to concerns about transition outcomes among youths with disabilities, Congress in 2004 added new requirements to the Individual Education Program (IEP) process through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This was an attempt to focus high school special...

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4. Making Their Own Maps

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pp. 51-74

The youths in this study expressed desires about their future destinations, but the routes that they would take to achieve their goals were not always clear to them. Having a dream, a desired destination, was not enough. They needed direction. Few road maps took into account...

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5. College, Rights, and Goodness of Fit

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pp. 75-95

College is a well-traveled pathway between adolescence and adulthood. Over the past fifty years, more and more youths have entered college—as of 2006, 66 percent of recent high school completers did so (NCES 2008). Like their peers, youths with disabilities are increasingly likely to enroll...

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6. The End of Entitlement

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pp. 96-117

Two of the most important cultural markers of adulthood in the United States are turning eighteen and graduating from high school. For some youths with disabilities, leaving high school happens later as a result of federal special education legislation. The Individuals with Disabilities...

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7. (Im)permanent Markers of Adulthood

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pp. 118-138

When do individuals become adults? One simple answer is when they turn eighteen, the legal age of majority in the United States. Eighteen-year-olds are allowed to vote, serve in the military, and make legal contracts. A more multifaceted answer is that individuals become adults when they...

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8. Missing Links

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pp. 139-155

Today, the transition to adulthood is receiving a great deal of attention.1 Yet if we look across the entire life course, that transition is only one of many. The transition from home to preschool has become a common experience. The transition from home or preschool to kindergarten...

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Appendix: Research Methods

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pp. 157-165

This study was inspired by the transition experiences of Amy Robison, to whom the book is dedicated. I met Amy when she was in her late teens, when I was a graduate student at Brandeis University. Amy is an outspoken young woman who lectures occasionally to medical students...


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pp. 167-173


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pp. 175-183


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pp. 185-190

E-ISBN-13: 9780813553306
E-ISBN-10: 081355330X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813552477
Print-ISBN-10: 0813552478

Page Count: 204
Illustrations: 1 graph, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Series in Childhood Studies