Mind the gap between school and adulthood for people with intellectual disabilities

Fiona Redgrove, Paul Jewell, Caroline Ellison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Considerable research has explored the “transition to adulthood” but few studies have considered the conceptualisation of emerging adulthood or adulthood for young people with intellectual disability. This article reviews the current literature about developmental and social constructions of adulthood for people with intellectual disabilities and explores how these definitions align with the perspectives of families, service providers, and policymakers. The article suggests that “transition to adulthood” would be better termed “transition from school” and into adult services, as such transitions rarely coincide with other typical markers of adulthood for many people with disabilities. Instead, it highlights the notion of “emerging adulthood” as an extended life stage for people with disabilities, which is supported by families and service providers. However, the article notes that differences in personal and political constructions of adulthood by these stakeholders contribute to tensions during such transitions. As a result, it suggests that there needs to be greater alignment between the definitions of adulthood between families and service providers and the goals of such transitions. In addition, there needs to be more consideration of the perspectives of young people with disabilities and more support for them as they navigate adulthood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)182-190
    Number of pages9
    JournalResearch and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2016


    • adulthood
    • intellectual disability
    • parent–staff tension
    • transition


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