Making the Transition to Independent Living on College Campus
In a study on parents of children with a disability, it was found that 55% of the parents were not sure their disabled child would always have a place to stay. Further, 62% stated their
The areas of most concern to the parents were finances, quality of life, housing, employment, health, making friendships, education and independence, in no order. These are concerns because as soon as a disabled young adult finishes school, they are no longer able to receive certain resources.
Why is this so important? Because all people, even the disabled, should be able to live with the same advantages and opportunities as everyone else, including living independently.
What Is Independent Living?
For a disabled adult, independently living can mean the same as it does for a non-disabled adult. It means no longer living with parents, working at a job or having a career, going to college, and even having a social life that may include dating. It means having access to these opportunities by adjusting or creating new environments that support their disability so they can succeed on their own, or with help, in adulthood.
Below are a few ways independent living for disabled young adults has advanced and helped many experience an active and fulfilling lifestyle. Housing is one of the first factors to investigate. Types of housing can include college dorm rooms, apartments, assisted living, public housing, and even owning a home. If planning to attend college, there are dorm rooms built to accommodate those with disabilities.
Accessible College Dorm Living
Those with disabilities can live on their own. They may need to adapt their living environment to do so, but those are small barriers to overcome. The type of disability they have can often determine the best environment.
Colleges and universities have special living spaces with wheelchair accessibility, lower cabinets and sinks, ramps, and widened doors. They also include wheelchair accessibility to the shower, and even allow service pets for those who need the assistance of a trained animal.
Not everyone will decide to go to college. Instead, they may choose to rent their own apartment while they work or take time to adjust to adulthood. There are apartments out there that have been set up for persons with disabilities. If not, there are certainly owners of apartments that will make an apartment ADA-compliant.
In the event of refusal, they know this is against the law and it’s doubtful they would want to face legal actions. For the most part, however, landlords are just happy to have great renters and will do what they can to keep them, even if that means reconstructing some areas to meet needs of a tenant.
Affordable Public Housing
Most young adults are struggling financially, whether disabled or not. They just haven’t had enough time in the workforce to earn a higher wage. Or, they are still in college working a part-time job. In cases such as these, public housing is available, and it is based on income. The Public Housing Agency can help anyone find the right house that meets the needs of disabilities.
Assisted Living Options
You may think assisted living is only for the elderly. Well, this is not true. They also cater to younger adults who are transitioning into independent living. Assisted living facilities have it all. They are built with the idea of making everything easier for the disabled. They individualize a person’s living space based on needs. They can install:
- Stair chair lifts
- Wheelchair ramps
- Bath lifts
- Transition benches
- Showers that are wheelchair accessible
- Non-slip treads
- Grab bars
They have on-site staff who can help care for, when needed, a person with disabilities. They also provide transportation to school, work or social activities. They can meet the medical, as well as personal needs of its residences. Assisted living can often give parents of disabled young adults more peace of mind too.
Having an assistant doesn’t sound so bad. They work the schedule that fits the schedule of the disabled young adult. Personal assistants are the employee of the person with disabilities. Meaning, they are there to meet the needs of the person they work for. Needs can be with:
- Personal care
- Getting to class on a college campus
- Attending social events
- Getting to and from work
- Organizing a schedule
They can also help ensure the disabled adult takes necessary medications, gets to meetings with doctors and therapists, and communicates daily with parents or family members of their client. Finding the right personal assistant is a process that should include research, references and the final choice being made by the disabled adult.
The automobile industry has been amazing when it comes to adapting cars, trucks, and vans to meet the needs of the disabled. Some are even created to allow the disabled to drive with assistance. There are vehicles with ramps and that are wheelchair accessible.
Public transportation has stepped up too. Most buses and trains make it easy for a disabled person to use their services. Large spaces are established for those with wheelchairs. Ramps are used as well as vehicle lifts. One problem with transportation can be the cost of the service. However, there are local government programs that can help.
It’s always good to check with local authorities who may have access to funding for those making the transition to adulthood and independent living. Funding may support the costs of buying obtaining supportive devices like walkers, chairs and technology.
Depending on the amount of funding, they may even be able to help with modifications to living environments, like adding grab bars or shower adjustments for safety. The transition to adulthood and independent living can be made so that everyone is happy, safe, and living well.