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Young people with intellectual disabilities attending mainstream and segregated schooling: perceived stigma, social comparison and future aspirations - Cooney - 2006 - Journal of Intellectual Disability Research - Wiley Online Library
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Dr Gayle Cooney, Section of Psychological Medicine, Division of Community Based Sciences, University of Glasgow, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, 1055 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0XH, UK (e-mail: [email protected]).
Background Mainstream schooling is a key policy in the promotion of social inclusion of young people with learning disabilities. Yet there is limited evidence about the school experience of young people about to leave mainstream as compared with segregated education, and how it impacts on their relative view of self and future aspirations.
Methods Sixty young people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities in their final year of secondary school participated in this study. Twenty-eight individuals came from mainstream schools and 32 attended segregated school. They completed a series of self-report measures on perceptions of stigma, social comparison to a more disabled and non-disabled peer and the likelihood involved in attaining their future goals.
Results The majority of participants from both groups reported experiencing stigmatized treatment in the local area where they lived. The mainstream group reported significant additional stigma at school. In terms of social comparisons, both groups compared themselves positively with a more disabled peer and with a non-disabled peer. While the mainstream pupils had more ambitious work-related aspirations, both groups felt it equally likely that they would attain their future goals. Although the participants from segregated schools came from significantly more deprived areas and had lower scores on tests of cognitive functioning, neither of these factors appeared to have an impact on their experience of stigma, social comparisons or future aspirations.
Conclusions Irrespective of schooling environment, the young people appeared to be able to cope with the threats to their identities and retained a sense of optimism about their future. Nevertheless, negative treatment reported by the children was a serious source of concern and there is a need for schools to promote the emotional well-being of pupils with intellectual disabilities.