The Role of Communication and Social Skills in Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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The purpose of the current investigation was to explore the educational missions and priorities of postsecondary education (PSE) programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID), where and how communication and social skills are addressed within these programs of study, and to what extent collaboration with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is occurring to target these skills. In this investigation, program directors of PSE programs for students with ID were recruited to take a 37-item, web-based, nationally distributed survey. Forty program directors completed the survey. The three current priorities of the programs, although variability to how they are ranked, are employment, socialization, and independent living. Program directors reported that communication skills were consistently targeted when addressing employment and independent living skills. Also, communication skills and self-determination were the two most reported indicators of success for students with ID, demonstrating the need for intervention in these areas and is likely why SLPs were the most frequently selected officials when asked about collaboration. However, over half of program directors reported not having an SLP program affiliated with their institution. Further, of those who did report having an SLP program affiliated with their institution, approximately one-third answered they are not receiving supports from the SLP program at their institution. As SLPs are trained in communication and skilled to work with individuals with ID who have challenges with communication skills, it is important SLPs are collaborating with these PSE programs for students with ID.