Transition into School: Experiences of Children with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families

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Clifford, Tessen
intellectual disability , transition to school
A successful transition into kindergarten is of the utmost importance, as it marks the beginning of formal education and paves the way for future academic and social outcomes. The transition into school is considered to be a challenging and anxiety-ridden time for most children and their parents; it is expected therefore, to be particularly difficult for children with an intellectual disability (ID). These children have deficits in cognitive and adaptive functioning that affect their academic and social skills. Despite the apparent difficulty for children with ID and the importance of this time in their lives, the transition into school has been a relatively under-researched topic. Nineteen parents of children with ID participated in three one-hour phone interviews throughout the transition into school. The aims of the study were 1) to describe this group of children with ID and their families as the children entered school, 2) to investigate changes in characteristics of the child, resources, and perceptions of the parent during the transition, and 3) to examine relationships between these variables and the child’s quality of life and school readiness. Although the results are based on a small sample, they do provide some preliminary information about the experiences of children with ID and their families throughout the transition into school. Only adaptive behaviour scores and the number of services accessed changed significantly during the time of transition. Furthermore, it was found that adaptive behaviour was correlated with school readiness skills, as were physiotherapy and speech-language therapy use. The only variable that correlated with the child’s quality of life was parental involvement in parent support groups. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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