- Although American society has come a long way in regard to the opportunities afforded to young adults with disabilities, as many as 30% of special education students drop out of school before graduation. In addition, former special education students are more likely to be under- or unemployed after they exit school than are non-special education age mates. Thus, there is a long way to go in developing effective transition-to-adulthood programming and in improving society's attitudes toward the integration of adults with disabilities into work settings.
- Because so many professionals have dedicated themselves to learning more about effective programming for transition into adulthood, there are more exceptional adults than ever working, living, and enjoying leisure activities in community-based, integrated settings. In the not too distant past, the opportunity for adults with disabilities to earn competitive wages for meaningful work was almost nonexistent. Today, a type of vocational opportunity referred to as supported employment enables individuals with severe disabilities to participate successfully in integrated settings.
- In addition to educating individuals with disabilities in work and independent-living skills, many professionals realize the importance of teaching recreation and leisure skills. Learning appropriate recreational and leisure-time activities is difficult for many adults with disabilities.
- Increased community-based residential services for adults with disabilities have meant a greater opportunity to live in more normalized settings. Three residential alternatives for adults with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities—group homes, foster homes, and semi-independent apartment living—help to complete the continuum of possible living arrangements between the segregated, public institution and fully independent living.
- The quality of life for most adults with disabilities in the new millennium is better than it has ever been. Over the past 25 years, adults with mental retardation have been moving from large institutions into smaller, more normalized, community-based living environments. Increasingly, these adults are employed in integrated settings. Special education has come a long way in educating exceptional children to be better prepared for the challenges and joys of being an adult. In addition, society at large is providing more of the same opportunities to these adults. There, however, remains much work to be done.