Intellectual Disabilities and Meaningful Lives: A Study of Policy and Change




Upshaw, Susan M.

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Political advocacy was combined with disabilities studies to describe the policies in place for transition services, and what is actually happening in regards to bridging the school and community for our students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The study is an examination of the similarities and differences in public policies, laws, and procedures among the 1st, 25th, and 50th states as ranked by the United Cerebral Palsy Organization (Bragdon, 2012), and documents findings informing policy makers as to the effects of their policies by recounting the real-life experience of a family with a son who has intellectual and developmental disabilities as he transitions into his community. Special educators follow the sanctions of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), and policy makers have worked to enact legislation for The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) to provide a continuum of support for those with disabilities. State agencies were created to provide services for those with disabilities, as sanctioned in The Americans with Disability Act. However, Texas, has long waiting lists for this support, and a very complex system to navigate to the appropriate list. Texas is ranked 50th of the 51 US states, including the District of Columbia, in the services offered adults with disabilities (Bragdon, 2012). Every year, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), an international advocacy group, produces an annual ranking of how well state Medicaid programs serve Americans with all disabilities, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Medicaid is the critical safety net that provides financial, healthcare security, and community supports and is considered to be our moral responsibility for those of our citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities because “it is the duty of a civil society such as ours to aid these individuals, who are often the most vulnerable members of society” (Bragdon, 2012, p.1). This study discloses what the top states have done to support their individuals with disabilities. Policy makers have access to what is working well and examples to use to improve the services offered in Texas.



Special education, Transition, Medicaid, IDEA, ADA, Political advocacy, Disability studies


Upshaw, S. M. (2013). <i>Intellectual disabilities and meaningful lives: A study of policy and change</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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