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The impact of supported employment interventions and self-determination on goals related to preparation for adulthood for young people (aged 16 to 25) with SEND

11 January 2021

Author: Emma Stacey (University College London)

This thesis examines the goals that young people, aged 16 to 25 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), have with regards to preparing for adulthood, including employment.

It also looks at factors which facilitate or impede young people with SEND from attaining their goals for the future, in terms of self-determination and factors related to supported employment interventions.

The systematic literature review synthesises findings from 13 studies on the effectiveness of supported employment interventions at improving employment outcomes for young people aged 16 to 25 with SEND.

The findings indicate that supportive employment can be effective for young people with SEND.

However, many of the studies lacked methodological quality and/or did not take place in the UK, limiting the generalisability of findings. The implications for educational practices are outlined and further research directions discussed.

The empirical study adopted a qualitative approach, using a grounded theory methodology, investigating young people with SEND’s goals for the future and their perceived self-determination to achieve these.

Semi-structured interviews were employed with eight young people, who were all enrolled on one supported internship programme.

The grounded theory revealed five overarching goals that young people had including ‘ongoing employment’, ‘being independent’, ‘developing skills’, ‘having family’, and ‘hobbies’.

Participant’s self-determination to achieve these goals varied and covered four categories: ‘perceptions of competency’, ‘motivation’, ‘autonomy’ and ‘self-regulation’.

The study also explored participants’ views of a supported internship programme in terms of perceived facilitators and barriers to preparing for adulthood.

The young people positively evaluated the supported internship with perceived facilitators being the availability of opportunities and support structures.

However, a few participants felt that the availability of opportunities could be improved and that some of their needs could be better met.

Strengths and limitations of the study are discussed alongside implications for future research and practice.


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