Professional Development Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

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 Educational options are available to help people with intellectual disabilities become as independent as possible.  Life skills programs educate students on skills such as effective time management, social skills, personal hygiene, career exploration, situational awareness and money management.  

High school seniors have so many options.  The military, a trade school and a four-year college degree are all options that are available to most students, but is that true for students with developmental disabilities?  The answer to that question may surprise some people.

Some students may be eligible for options like internships, apprentice programs, or entrepreneurial paths.  These learning experiences can lead to more in-depth training and even life-long career paths

There are specialized colleges that exist to assist students with developmental disabilities in furthering their educational experiences after high school.  For example, the UPMC Vocational Training Center is a community-based facility that specializes in training people with intellectual disabilities to have meaningful work experiences. 

Some students with intellectual disabilities may go after four-year college degrees.  The national organization Think College helps colleges and universities be more inclusive of students with intellectual disabilities.  Think College works to expand and improve higher education options for these often undeserved students.  

People don’t always view higher education as an option for students with intellectual disabilities.  Richard Greenfield’s third and seventh grade teachers told him that he would never amount to much.  However, in the spring of 2015 he graduated from a local community college with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.5 and is currently attending Illinois State University where he is majoring in Political Science.  His career ambition is to run for an elected office such as a State Representative or Governor and find ways to make college more affordable for all students.

If a student is labeled with a learning disability or is thought to have a severe intellectual disability, some people may assume that the student will be limited to completing high school.  However, given the right support systems, that student may surprise everyone with what they can achieve.

The Fifth Freedom Network