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The Post-High School Outcomes of Youth With Disabilities up to 4 Years After High School
NCSER 2009-3017
April 2009

Social and Community Involvement of Out-of-High School Youth With Disabilities

Living successfully in their communities has long been considered central to youth with disabilities' quality of life (Halpern 1985). An important aspect of whether a youth is living successfully in the community is the "adequacy of his or her social and interpersonal network [which]…is possibly the most important of all" aspects of adjustment for young adults with disabilities (Halpern 1985, p. 480).

  • NLTS2 findings suggest that youth with disabilities had active friendships—87 percent reported seeing friends outside of organized activities at least weekly.
  • Forty-eight percent were reported to communicate by computer at least once a week, with 24 percent doing so once a day or more often.
  • The participation rate in any one of three types of extracurricular activities—lessons or classes outside of school, volunteer or community service activities, and organized school or community groups—was 49 percent, ranging from 22 percent to 31 percent of youth across the three types of activities.
  • Six percent of youth were reported never to see friends outside of organized activities, and 51 percent did not take part in any of the three types of extracurricular activities mentioned above.
  • Two-thirds (69 percent) of out-of-high school youth with disabilities had driving privileges and 67 percent exercised civic participation through registering to vote.
  • Several negative forms of community participation or involvement also characterized the out-of-high school experiences of some youth with disabilities. For example, 21 percent reported having been in a physical fight in the past year, 11 percent reported carrying a weapon in the past 30 days, and 2 percent reported being gang members.
  • Fifty-three percent of out-of-high school youth with disabilities reported at some time having been stopped and questioned by police for reasons other than a traffic violation, and 28 percent had been arrested. Fifteen percent had spent a night in jail and 17 percent were reported to have been on probation or parole.