Part II: Clinical Practice Guidelines for Adolescents and Young Adults With Down Syndrome: 12-21 Years

Susan Van Cleve, MSN, RN, CPNP; Sheila Cannon, MEd; William I. Cohen, MD


J Pediatr Health Care. 2006;20(3):198-205. 

In This Article

Education and Self-determination

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (U.S. Department of Education, 2005) assures that all children with disabilities have free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs up to age 21 years. IDEA also states that planning for the transition to adult life must be started early during high school for students with disabilities. Beginning at 14 years of age, the student with DS becomes an integral member of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team. This team includes the parents or guardians, regular and special education teachers, and school district administration representatives. Individuals with disabilities are eligible to continue in school until age 21 years. The student's vision for the future along with the family and team's knowledge of the student's strengths and needs are the driving force in developing a transition plan beyond high school to community life.

Self-determination, the degree to which people endorse their actions at the highest level of reflection and engage in the actions with a full sense of choice, is a concept that is particularly relevant for individuals with DS (Powers & Sikora, 1997). Self-determination supports the adolescent with DS as an active participant in decision making and self-directed action to achieve personally identified goals in terms of planning for future education, employment, and community activities.


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