Support Professionals and Students in the
Field of Developmental Disabilities

Journal on Developmental Disabilities

The Journal on Developmental Disabilities is a peer-reviewed journal with a growing regional and international readership.

Volume 24, Number 1 – Transitional Aged Youth

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Transitional Aged Youth: Navigating Planning Across Systems
Anne Readhead, Lisa Whittingham, Katie McKay, Courtney Bishop and Frances Owen

For youth who have intellectual/developmental disabilities, the transition following high school from services directed to children and youth to services intended for adults can be daunting. However, since 2013 the Ontario government along with educational and community-based services have focused on the development and implementation of multisectoral coordinated planning processes to facilitate this change during the high school years. This article describes the nature of the youth to adult transition and some of the planning processes used to support them. Notions of social inclusion, quality of life, and youth-centred approaches with the ministerial adoption of these approaches are discussed. It also introduces the articles in this special issue that explore the transition process itself and the experiences of youth and their families.

How This Special Issue Was Developed: A Note From the Guest Editors
Donato Tarulli, Frances Owen and Dorothy Griffiths



What's Next? Post-secondary Planning for Youth with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities
Anne Readhead, Lisa Whittingham, Katie McKay, Courtney Bishop and Jennifer Hope

Youth with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) have an increasing range of post-secondary training, education and employment options when they transition out of high school. This article describes pathways that youth who are interested in employment may take and the supports and processes necessary to help them to move toward their goal. Innovative approaches to skills training for transitional aged youth (TAY) and emerging models of employment and entrepreneurship are described. Unemployment and underemployment of youth and barriers to employment are reviewed. The central role of early individualized planning, experiential learning opportunities, ongoing coordinated mentorship, advocacy and support are discussed.

A New Approach to Transition Planning for Transitional Aged Youth With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Katie McKay

The current study examined transition planning in the Niagara Region in Ontario, Canada, as per the protocol for integrated transition planning for young people with developmental disabilities, and the barriers to the enactment of this protocol in relation to youth participation and implementation. Further, the study focused on whether youth were better included in their transition plans since the implementation of the protocol, and ways to better include youth in the transition process. 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; (3) transition planning should begin earlier and continue into adult services to reduce the gap between children’s services and adult services; (4) we must move past keeping youth “busy and safe” and ensure that they are participating in meaningful activities; and (5) integrated transition planning is a new process but it is the right process that has many benefits.

A Better Slice of Life: The Culinary Training Program Creating a Pathway to Employment for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Jo Anne Nugent

This article provides an overview of an innovative new program offered jointly by Humber College and Christian Horizons. This project, entitled the Culinary Training Program, provides adults with development disabilities with the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge that will lead to employment in the culinary field. The article traces the history of the program, describes its effectiveness and discusses plans for the future. In particular, the program acts as a pathway to post-secondary education and employment for young adults leaving school board settings.

System Kids: Transition Aged Youth From Foster Care to Developmental Services
Sue Hutton, Kevin John Head, Sarah Lyttle, Jordyn, Noah Kenneally and Maja Rehou

This paper shines a light on the stories of three young adults labeled with an intellectual disability; all three have transitioned out of foster care and are now receiving developmental services in different settings in Ontario. All three have experienced varying degrees of human rights violations throughout their time in foster care as well as in developmental services. By human rights violations, we mean violations that are not necessarily always under the law, but violations to make their own decisions throughout any given day. This point shall be illuminated through the stories of the three youth who share details of these violations in concrete terms. The three have come from a diversity of backgrounds, representing what it is like to grow up in the system with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and with mobility disabilities. All three want people to know the truth about what it is like surviving the system with an intellectual disability, not only in foster care, but now, continuing to live “trapped” (as one of the young adults calls it) in the confines of the often rights- restricting world of developmental services. We balance the stories with background on the setting of developmental services and service delivery for transitional aged youth (in this paper we shall say “youth” as our co-authors have chosen) with a literature review and with interviews from developmental services staff in Ontario agency settings. This paper includes the stories of the three young adults providing their truths – painful and honest, in both written form and in graphic form. The graphic data collected provides an accessible visual depiction of the isolation and pain endured in the system.

"Well Where's he Supposed to Live?" - Experiences of Adoptive Parents of Emerging Adult Children with FASD in Ontario
Jenna Pepper, Shelley Watson & Kelly C. Coons-Harding

The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the experiences of adoptive parents of adult adoptees with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to examine their needs as they are adapting to their children’s transition into adulthood. Twenty parents from Ontario completed the Questionnaire on Resources and Stress – Friedrich’s Version (QRS‑F), as well as a semi structured interview focused on parents’ lived experiences. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), three major themes were identified from the interviews: the transition of the child into adult housing, children’s inabilities to manage finances, and difficulties associated with individual characteristics. Each theme is discussed in detail. The QRS‑F was analyzed using descriptive statistics and results indicate that parents were, on average, experiencing moderate levels of stress. The findings suggest that those parents required additional resources such as adult housing to facilitate adaptation and minimize perceived parental stress. Understanding adoptive parents’ needs is crucial for providing the appropriate supports to avoid family crisis.

State-of-the-Art Review of Transition Planning Tools for Youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Canada
Kelly D. Coons-Harding, Anna Azulai and Audrey McFarlane

While the nature of the formal transition to adulthood has changed over the past decade, it con-tinues to be premised on the notion of achieving independence. Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), however, may never reach full independence in their adult years, in-stead more so achieving interdependence. Consequently, their transition into adulthood may be particularly challenging because of the expectation of increased responsibilities and autonomy in many areas of life. While there is considerable interest in the area of transitional aged youth and youth leaving care, there is much less research addressing the needs of those with developmental disabilities, particularly FASD, leaving care and transitioning to adult services. It is not clear what services currently exist in Canada for transitional aged youth with FASD. Furthermore, it is also unknown to what extent existing programs enable youth with FASD to successfully transition into adulthood. Using a state-of-the-art review method, the purpose of this project was to review the literature on transition planning processes for youth with FASD from across Canada to determine the strengths and challenges of these existing transition planning tools, and to provide recommendations for the future for youth with FASD and their families.