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Easter Seals Survey: Adults with Developmental Disabilities

A representative from WestGlenn Communications (, a PR firm that works with non-profit organizations, asked me to review an Easter Seals survey related to adults with developmental disabilities and to consider referring readers of this blog to a video discussion.

Understand that this survey was funded by MassMutual Financial Group, which has a vested interest in marketing financial planning to parents of children with disabilities. I am not going to recommend any particular company, but I do agree that those families with the ability must consider how a child with a disability will adapt to adulthood.

The sad truth is that many of us with developmental disabilities are underemployed or unemployed. Surveys of adults with official diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders indicate only 17 percent have full-time employment. That leaves most dependent on public supports, friends, and family. I know that cannot be easy for parents to consider. Also, I know my personal track record of underemployment has been frustrating for my wife and me.

I don't know the full survey methodology, but it seems reasonable and was conducted by a respected polling organization. The survey summary states:
Easter Seals Living with Disabilities Study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Easter Seals between August 18, 2010 and September 13, 2010 among 1,714 adults over the age of 18. Of the total, respondents were segmented into one of three separate groups: 390 adults living with a developmental disability over the age of 18, 318 parents of adult children over the age of 18 who have developmental disabilities, and 1,006 parents of adult children over the age of 18 without disabilities.
This is the introduction to the Easter Seals project (
There are millions of adults living with developmental disabilities in the United States. As a leading provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities and other special needs, Easter Seals knows how challenging life for someone living with a disability - and his/her family - can be.
Easter Seals Living with Disabilities Study, made possible by MassMutual Financial Group, provides insight into the lives of individuals with disabilities and the everyday challenges their families face. Using key findings from this study, Easter Seals hopes to advocate for the life-long services that families living with disabilities need, especially in areas such as employment, quality of life and financial planning.
The published data from the study include the following:

  • 74% of parents do not believe their adult children with disabilities are financially independent.
  • 39% of parents strongly or somewhat agree their adult children with disabilities are able to work for pay if they want to, compared to 92% of parents of adult children without disabilities.
  • 45% of parents strongly agree their adult children with disabilities will always have a place to live.
  • 40% of parents believe their adult children with disabilities received an education that adequately prepared them for life.
  • 62% of parents believe their adult children with disabilities cannot take care of themselves.
  • 54% don't believe their adult child with disabilities have the ability to make their own life decisions.

The video roundtable can be viewed at:


  1. Surveys of adults with official diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders indicate only 17 percent have full-time employment.

    That has been my personal experience as well, though I couldn't give a statistic. But nearly everyone I know with an official diagnosis in my real life are unemployed.

    I have a trust for my son set up, its a special needs trust and does many of the things the MassMutual program does. For parents of a DD child, you must set up something for your child when you leave. Better to start on this when they are young just in case.


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