Date of Award

5-18-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Melinda Burchard

Abstract

Teachers, special educators, therapists, and other professionals should begin developing a transition plan based on an individual student’s interests as early as possible. The earlier that students with disabilities can begin obtaining work experience, the more likely they are to have successful outcomes of obtaining and maintaining employment after graduation. Furthermore, it is important for the team to collaborate with the parents because parental expectations are associated with improved employment outcomes. Additionally, by focusing on students’ strengths during individualized education program meetings, goals can be created that encourage the students’ strengths and address their weaknesses. Occupational therapists (OTs) are often not fully utilized as part of transition teams for students transitioning out of high school. This is unfortunate because OTs have expertise in helping students engage in self-determination and in building goals based on that student’s strengths and preferences. Overall, students with disabilities have incredible value to offer society, and professionals should utilize these strategies to improve student employment outcomes after graduation to close the employment gap between people with disabilities and people without disabilities.

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