Walking, seeing, hearing, speaking. These are things we do every day without even thinking. These are things that we take for granted. But there are people out there for whom taking a short flight of stairs can be equivalent to climbing Mt Everest, for whom seeing a flower or hearing a bird song or reciting a nursery rhyme may be luxuries they’ll never enjoy. But even those whose disabilities allow them to walk, see, talk and hear may still have problems living a “normal” life as we know it. Education, employment, financial independence are just a few of the hurdles these people have to face. These are problems that do not only concern the people with disability themselves but their families as well. Parents are especially concerned what happens to their children when they reach adulthood, when the parents are not around to advocate for them.
This is where Easter Seals come in. Easter Seals is “a leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs.”
Easter Seals has conducted the Living with Disability study which compared the challenges facing adults with developmental disabilities and parents of adult children with disabilities, as compared to parents of adult children without disabilities. The study was conducted in August to September 2010 and surveyed 1,714 adults in 3 categories: 390 adults living with a developmental disability, 318 parents of adult children who have developmental disabilities, and 1,006 parents of adult children without disabilities.
Here are some of the key findings of the study:
- Finances: Huge gaps exist in parents of adults with disabilities’ assessment of their child’s ability to manage their own finances (34% vs. 82% parents of adults without disabilities) and have the life skills necessary to live independently (30% vs. 83% parents of adults without disabilities). Seventy-four percent of parents don’t see their adult child with a disability as financially independent; while more than half (52%) of parents say their adult children without disabilities are financially independent.
- Quality of life: Just 6 in 10 parents of adult children with a disability rate their child’s quality of life as excellent or good (61%), compared to 8 in 10 parents of adults without a disability (82%).
- Employment: Only 11% of parents of adult children with disabilities report their child is employed full time (or 19% part time), while 48% of parents of adults without disabilities report the same (or 24% part time). A little more than a third (39%) of parents say their adult children with disabilities are able to work for pay, compared to nearly all (92%) of parents of adult children without disabilities.
- Independent living: Seven in 10 adults with disabilities (69%) live with their parent(s) or guardian, only 17% live independently – compared to more than half of adult children without disabilities (51%). Furthermore, only 45% of parents strongly agree their adult child with a disability will always have a place to live; whereas, 75% of parents of adult children without a disability strongly agree.
The results of the study will be used to raise public awareness but also give insights to parents of children with disability on how to prepare for their offspring’s future.