Degree Name

Master of Education (Hons.)


School of Learning Studies


This investigation of the aspirations and expectations of mildly intellectually disabled adolescents concerning their future level of independent functioning in the community reveals that achievement of full adult status is a keenly sought but elusive goal for them. There is much evidence to suggest that adolescents with mild intellectual disabilities are greatly disadvantaged in efforts to assume adult roles. Difficulties in gaining satisfactory employment, living independently and establishing meaningful relationships outside the immediate family contribute to the problems these young people face in establishing a stable and secure self-concept which is both necessary for, and a product of, full adult status in our society. Interviews with mildly intellectually disabled students, their parents and teachers reveal that the barriers to the achievement of their goals are not easily recognised by the students. Problems associated with the implementation of integration, administrative difficulties at the school and community levels, and the multiplier effect of the additional problems faced by so many of these families are seen to to be the major causes of the students' disempowerment and failure to integrate into adult society. The identification of pathways to power for people with intellectual disabilities and ways in which community members may facilitate this process, form the basis of this research.