Toward Empowerment and Inclusion: Improving Performance and Removing Barriers for Supported Education Clients in Postsecondary Education

Author: ORCID icon
Johnson, Adam, Curriculum and Instruction - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Wheelock, Matthew, Curriculum and Instruction - School of Education & Human Development, University of Virginia

The purpose of this study is to identify Supported Education (SED) strategies that promote the postsecondary success of Supported Education Clients (SECs), a population composed of college students with neuropsychiatric conditions (SWNPs) including Serious Mental Illness (SMI) (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia) and/or neurodevelopmental conditions (e.g., autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). This study employs both the medical model and the social model of disability to investigate SECs’ adversities and to identify responsive support strategies. This dual model approach allows exploration of the students’ internal individual challenges in the cognitive, behavioral, and affective domains and the external environmental barriers that they face, including stigma, nondisclosure, and exclusion. Eleven SED professionals participated and were asked to articulate the individual challenges and environmental barriers that SECs experience in the postsecondary landscape as well as support strategies that help students address these challenges and barriers. Through analysis of the seminal ideas articulated by participants and presented in documents, and upon corroboration of those ideas in the literature, this study produced a range of findings on individual challenges (e.g., executive functioning challenges, underutilization of academic skills, problems with student-faculty communication, and anxiety) and environmental barriers (e.g., public and self stigma, nondisclosure, exclusion, and uncoordinated campus services). Then, relying on these findings, this study makes recommendations to a local SED program to help this program enhance its support strategies for local SECs.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
Supported Education, postsecondary education, students with disabilities, mental health, executive functioning, anxiety, stigma, nondisclosure, exclusion, academic support strategies, student success, retention
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