Career Planning Strategies for Disabled Students
Career counseling in secondary schools is important for all students; but it is especially critical for students with physical or mental disabilities. This group comprises about half of identified exceptional students. Although they have normal intelligence, their learning problems "in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities" (Biller, 1991) can prevent them from acquiring knowledge when they are taught in large groups or counseled with unstructured approaches.
Youth with disabilities have a higher dropout rate than their non-handicapped peers. These youth report a greater need for transition services that focus on career counseling and in obtaining and maintaining employment. Instructional career counseling using cognitive approaches has been recommended for youth with disabilities while they are still enrolled in secondary school (Biller, 1987). Cognitive approaches have been used to enhance learning in a number of curriculum areas, to increase self-control in students with learning disabilities (Englert, Tarrant, & Mariage, 1992).
Characteristics of youth with learning disabilities which may contribute to their difficulties in career development include the following:
"h Lack of career maturity and awareness of own abilities (Biller & Horn, 1991).
"h Poorly developed planning and monitoring skills (Biller & Horn, 1991).
"h Lack of problem solving skill (Hoffman et al., 1987).
"h Immature social skills and social awareness (Biller, 1987).
"h Low academic achievement, particularly in literacy (Hoffman et al., 1987).
Secondary schools have emphasized academic remediation for these students, particularly in literacy. However, educational interventions are shifting to a more preventive approach by focusing more on the demands of post-school environments.
In recent research on adults with learning disabilities who were not successfully employed, lack of self-understanding was cited as a pervasive characteristic (e.g., Hoffman et al., 1987). Although they knew they were having problems, these...