The National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) was first conducted in the early 1990s as a method of assessing the needs of students with emotional problems. The goal was to identify areas in which these individuals needed the most help, including academic, employment, and behavioral domains, and use that information to make improvements that produce better life outcomes. The results of the first analysis were dismal, to say the least. But results of a recent review of the NLTS2 show that although some improvements have occurred, we’ve still got a long way to go.
Mary Wagner of the Center for Education and Human Services at Stanford Research Institute International reviewed data from 2005 and 2009 and looked at how youths fared during high school and in the eight years after. She found that more students with emotional disturbances had completed high school than in 1991, but a high percentage received nontraditional diplomas. Over half of those studied did go on to college, but not all graduated or received certifications. Wagner also discovered that even though the majority (91.2%) of individuals had worked at some point after graduating from high school, less than half were working when this review took place. This is problematic because most of these emotionally disturbed (ED) individuals reported living independently.
Other data that concerned Wagner were the arrest statistics. “The percentage of youth with ED out of high school up to four years in 1990 who had ever been arrested—36%—had jumped to 60.7% by 2005,” Wagner said. This is an alarming statistic, and one that Wagner believes could be avoided. In her research, she found that the majority of people with ED did not disclose their disability to college administrators or work colleagues and supervisors. Possessing self-awareness and understanding what one needs to function with a disability is essential to success. Many of the respondents may not have revealed their ED because they were concerned about how they would be treated. However, this disclosure can open many doors of opportunity in academic and professional worlds. Having accommodations that help people with ED adjust to life transitions such as college and work could dramatically decrease negative behavior and outcomes. Wagner hopes that these results lead to improvements in programs designed to help individuals with ED as they progress through school and beyond.
Wagner, Mary, and Lynn Newman. Longitudinal transition outcomes of youth with emotional disturbances. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 35.3 (2012): 199-208. Print.
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