This application proposes the first major study of mental retardation and family well-being during the transition from late adolescence into young adulthood. There is a gap in knowledge about mental retardation and families, as most studies have been of families with young children or older adults. The developmental period from about age 18 to 26 is critical, in that formal schooling ends and changes in residential, vocational, and social status are likely. The investigators aim to build upon our previous longitudinal studies of families and mental retardation, by studying families of late adolescents or young adults with moderate to severe mental retardation during the transition period. The investigators propose a longitudinal study with three annual assessments of 270 families, divided into three age cohorts (ages 18, 21, and 24 to start) and two cultural groups (English-speaking, primarily Anglo families and Spanish-speaking Latino families). The research is guided by a theoretical model in which family well-being, the outcome of primary interest, is viewed as influenced by the success of transitional experiences in the residential, vocational, and social realms. Moreover, individual characteristics, environment and culture, and family involvement with programs are proposed as influencing family well-being, but primarily through their impact on transition success and a longitudinal study for up to six years of families who have placed the child out of the home. This analysis of post-placement family involvement and well-being will include previous longitudinal data as well as new observations. Analysis will focus on predictive modeling of transition success and family well-being, which take into account the dynamic nature of the adjustment process as it operates over time. Systematic and longitudinal study of transitional experiences will provide information that can be utilized by policy makers and service providers, especially to facilitate parents' planning for the future.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
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University of California Riverside
Schools of Education
United States
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