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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

FUTURE: Postsecondary Education for College Students with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism

David F. Cihak, Associate ProfessorCollege of Education, Health and Human Sciences

The prevalence of students with intellectual disabilities and autism is increasing, and they have limited opportunities after high school. As the number of students identified with an intellectual disability grows, the number of postsecondary programs will need to grow as well. In an attempt to increase options, the University of Tennessee admitted its first class of college students in fall 2011 into the FUTURE program. The FUTURE program offers a two-year certificate that focuses on career development and life skills training for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. This presentation describes FUTURE, including the students’ college experiences regarding coursework and work-based internships. In addition, research conducted on postsecondary education will be presented. Specific research studies include: (a) faculty and student attitudes and beliefs about FUTURE-like programs, (b) program impact on educational mentors, (c) career interest survey development for this population, and (d) digital literacy inclusion and supports to improve employment opportunities.​

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