Cohort Comparisons of Experiences by Disability Category
In both studies, information about the nature of youths' disabilities came from rosters of all students in the age ranges included in the studies and receiving special education services in the 1985–86 or 2000–01 school years under the auspices of participating local education agencies (LEAs) and state-supported special schools. Each student was assigned to a disability category on the basis of the primary disability designated by the student's school or district. In 2001 the federal disability categories specified for students differed from those in 1986. There were categories in 2001 that were not in use in 1986, specifically the categories of autism and traumatic brain injury. The categories of deaf and hard of hearing in 1986 were included in the one disability category of hearing impairment in 2001.
Because students with autism were included in the other health impairment category in 1986, comparisons for this report required that the NLTS2 youth with autism (approximately 180 youth) be included in the other health impairment category as well. Youth in the 2001 traumatic brain injury category were assigned to a disability category compatible with the disability categories in effect in 1986, based on disability information provided by parents during the telephone interview. In addition, the two NLTS categories of deaf and hard of hearing were combined to be comparable to the single NLTS2 category of hearing impairment. In both cohorts, students with deaf-blindness were included in the multiple impairments category because there were too few to report separately.
Comparisons across time by disability category are apparent in many of the post-high school outcomes examined in this report.
- Youth in four of nine disability categories experienced significantly higher rates of ever having enrolled in postsecondary programs in 2005 than in 1990, specifically those with hearing impairments (73 percent vs. 50 percent, 23 percentage-point difference), mental retardation (28 percent vs. 8 percent, 20 percentage-point difference), learning disabilities (48 percent vs. 30 percent, 18 percentage-point difference), and emotional disturbances (35 percent vs. 18 percent, 17 percentage-point difference).
- Youth in five of the nine disability categories experienced significantly higher engagement rates in 2005 than in 1990, specifically those with learning disabilities (91 percent vs. 72 percent, 19 percentage-point difference); hearing (88 percent vs. 58 percent, 30 percentage-point difference), visual (96 percent vs. 62 percent, 34 percentage-point difference), or other health impairments (95 percent vs. 73 percent, 22 percentage-point difference); and multiple disabilities (86 percent vs. 45 percent, 42 percentage-point difference).
- Youth in the hearing impairment (65 percent vs. 43 percent, 22 percentage-point difference), other health impairment/autism (66 percent vs. 37 percent, 29 percentagepoint difference), and multiple disabilities/deaf-blindness categories (63 percent vs. 2 percent, 61 percentage-point difference) experienced significantly higher rates of having had a savings account in 2005 than in 1990.
- Youth in seven of the nine disability categories also were more likely to have a checking account in 2005 than in 1990, specifically those with learning disabilities (50 percent vs. 29 percent, 21 percentage-point difference), speech/language impairments (58 percent vs. 26 percent, 32 percentage-point difference), hearing impairments (64 percent vs. 32 percent, 32 percentage-point difference), visual impairments (72 percent vs. 35 percent, 37 percentage-point difference), or orthopedic impairments (56 percent vs. 25 percent, 31 percentage-point difference); other health impairments or autism (59 percent vs. 25 percent, 33 percentage-point difference), or multiple disabilities or deaf/blindness (34 percent vs. 1 percent, 33 percentage-point difference).
- Rates of volunteerism were significantly higher in 2005 than in 1990 for youth with speech/language (35 percent vs. 10 percent, 25 percentage-points) or visual impairments (67 percent vs. 21 percent, 46 percentage-points).
- The likelihood of youth either belonging to an extracurricular community group or volunteering was higher in 2005 than 1990 for youth with visual impairments (76 percent vs. 35 percent, 41 percentage points).
- The rates at which youth with disabilities were reported to have a driver's license was significantly higher in 2005 than 1990 for youth with multiple disabilities or deaf/blindness (36 percent vs. 2 percent, 34 percentage points).
- Significantly higher voter registration rates in 2005 were reported for youth with hearing (76 percent vs. 49 percent, 28 percentage points), visual (81 percent vs. 57 percent, 23 percentage points), or orthopedic impairments (77 percent vs. 45 percent, 32 percentage points); emotional disturbances (69 percent vs. 50 percent, 20 percentage points); or multiple disabilities or deaf-blindness (66 percent vs. 2 percent, 64 percentage points).
- Youth with emotional disturbances evidenced a 25-percentage-point higher rate in 2005 than in 1990 of being reported to have ever been arrested (61 percent vs. 36 percent).