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Transitions to Independent Living for Developmentally Impaired Young Adults

Dr. Geraldine Pearson,PhD, PMH-CNS, FAAN, in her featured article titled “The Transition Experience of Developmentally Impaired Young Adults Living in a Structured Apartment Setting,” reports the findings of a study conducted with young adults with a history of pervasive developmental disorders.  The young adults were all no longer eligible for child services in their area, and were transitioning to independent living.  It is rare that researchers turn directly to people who experience such extensive physical and psychologic challenges as participants.  Dr. Pearson’s work with her participants yielded impotant insights into their experience, as well as very important  explanations of methodologic adjustments that needed to be taken into consideration in the conduct of this research. She shared this description of her work in this message for the ANS blog:

Peggy asked me to begin this blog about my my paper published on the July-September 2012 online issue of ANS. titled “The Transition Experience of Developmentally Impaired Young Adults Living in a Structured Apartment Setting”. It detailed my dissertation research with a population of chronically disturbed young adults. I learned so much from these young adults trying to grow up with chronic psychiatric and developmental impairments and very little family support. The research is fairly clear in defining the need for parental figures to guide and assist as these individuals pass into adulthood. I think of these young people as I read the recent statistics about so many college graduates moving back home with their parents. While economics are cited as the predominant reason for this, I also wonder how many of them feel the need for family support as they face an unfriendly economic environment where living is expensive. My research participants were attempting to grow up using limited public resources for housing and expenses. Most appeared to live at the poverty line and they clearly struggled.

There were also some unique moments as I conducted the interviews in participant living environments. One young man proudly spoke of the “crickets” that were darting up his kitchen wall. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he was actually infested with roaches!

Participants were polite, eager to talk about their lives, longing for someone to talk with them. At the conclusion of the research interviews I was left to ponder the plight of this population, their quality of life, and what we, as mental health professionals, might be doing to improve their living. I didn’t come away with clear answers. In the end, the research cemented my passion about caring for these individuals, whether children, adolescents, or young adults. It is such an honor to have this paper published in ANS!

I believe you will find this featured article to hold valuable insights for all nurse scholars, not just because of the substance of the article, but as an exemplar of approaches to nursing research with those who are most vulnerable, and whose experience remains essentially unknown.  Visit the ANS web site now to download your free copy!

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