Psychosocial and disability identity development among college students with disabilities
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As more students with disabilities enter post-secondary education in the United States, it becomes increasing important to understand the issues and concerns these students face, and how they can best be served by the faculty, student affairs administrators and disability services providers in order to foster psychosocial development and a healthy attitude about disability and disability identity. There has been scant research that encompasses students with disabilities as a group, particularly in relation to psychosocial and disability identity development. This study focused on investigating the possible differences in psychosocial development for college students with disabilities in relation to a normed sample of college students, and disability identity development for disabled students. Other factors considered in the study were class year, gender, whether the student considered themselves as a person with a disability, and other dual/multiple identity issues. The 127 participants in the study were all students with disabilities who attend four year public and private institutions of higher education in a northeastern state. Each student completed the Student Developmental Task Lifestyle Assessment (SDTLA), Disability Identity Attitude Scale (DIAS) and a Personal Demographic Form. Statistical analyses were performed to examine the possible relationships between disability and psychosocial development and identity development. No differences were found between students with disabilities and the normative sample of the SDTLA in each area measured. There were a number of limitations to the study related to the ability to find a large enough sample (especially of students with visible disabilities) and to the Disability Identity Attitude Scale. More research in the area of disability identity and the impact of visibility of disability is strongly indicated by the results of this study. Suggestions are given for further research that focuses on students with disabilities in higher education and the implications for college personnel who work closely with these students.