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Ways to Enhance Social Inclusion

By Brian Abery

Teens and young adults with disabilities who have positive social relationships with peers, and participate in community activities they enjoy and value, are on the path to greater satisfaction and success in adult life than those who are socially isolated and uninvolved in recreation and leisure activities. Young people who have opportunities to develop and practice social skills, and engage in activities of their choosing with peers of their choosing, demonstrate improved coping abilities, increased independence, and greater self-determination, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Social inclusion also has the potential to strengthen leadership skills, promote acceptance between young people with and without disabilities, and support development of age-appropriate, socially-valued behaviors.

Determination, creativity, and effective planning by families can support teens/young adults with disabilities to develop and maintain valued social relationships with persons of their own choosing. What can families do to facilitate social inclusion? Below are a number of suggestions:

Brian Abery is a Project Director with the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He may be reached at 612/625-5592 or


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Retrieved from the Web site of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota ( Citation: Gaylord, V., Agosta, J., Barclay, J., Melda, K. & Stenhjem, P. (Eds.). (2006). Impact: Feature Issue on Parenting Teens and Young Adults with Disabilities 19(2). [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.]

The PDF version of this Impact, with photos and graphics, is also online at

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