Special Education Transition: A Case Study of the Community Integration Experience
The purpose of this study was to examine and describe transition services vis a vis the community integration of an adult-age special education student with a developmental disability. An additional goal was to provide the reader with a detailed portrait of the experiences of this student, especially with respect to the relationships and networks that influenced this student's integration into a community setting. Transition, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004), is a results-oriented process that requires special education program leaders to focus on the specific needs of each student in order to successfully integrate them in communities. This case study was significant in that it contributed to understanding how an individual with disabilities copes in educational programs and in communities. Data collection involved interviews with an adult age student who received special education transition services, her parent, her case manager, document review of the Individualized Education Program of the selected student, and review of relevant transition program and policy documents. Social capital theory was used as the conceptual framework for this study and guided the data analysis. Three distinctive themes were revealed through the analysis of the data: Community Opportunities, Development and Implementation of the IEP, and Employment. The overall findings of this case study revealed that through implementation of the IEP and the transition service in a community based setting, a multitude of social relationships and networks were activated by the student. The IEP specifically generated relationships and networks through opportunities for the student to have a peer mentor, have structured social time with her peers, have access to community venues, and through employment. The following conclusions were drawn: Community opportunities provide access to resources that influence integration: I EP transition services are a mechanism to facilitate community integration; and, e mployment is a primary outcome of transition service and a means to integrate into the community. The overall findings of this case study confirmed that vital social relationships and networks were activated by the student through conscientious implementation of her IEP and particularly as a result of the recommended transition services that afforded her community-based employment.