For High School Students with Down SyndromeWhile the student is still in secondary school, parents, the IEP team, and the student himself (or herself!) will need to plan for the future and the student’s life as an adult. This involves considering, for example, issues such as employment (with or without supports), independent living and self-care skills, the possibility of higher education or vocational training, and how to connect with adult service systems. Under IDEA, the process of planning for transition to adulthood should begin no later than the student’s 16th birthday. (7) For adolescents with Down syndrome, it’s usually important to begin earlier than that.
Adult life for individuals with Down syndrome has changed noticeably from just two decades ago. Opportunities to live and work independently in the community have greatly expanded for those with Down syndrome. This owes much to the more inclusive and comprehensive education IDEA promotes and to improved public attitudes towards disability. Today, there’s a nationwide network of independent living centers, as well as apartments that are group-shared and supervised for those who need this level of support. Training, education, and assistance are also available to eligible adults with Down syndrome through service systems such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Security. Adult life holds many opportunities for those with Down syndrome, so it’s important to plan ahead with optimism and vigor.