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transition to Adulthood

A primary purpose of special education is to prepare students with disabilities to live a good life after high school. This line of work focuses on how best to ensure the transition to adulthood is smooth, seamless, and successful for students with significant disabilities.

research studies

  • Valentini, B., Carter, E. W., Bumble, J. L., & Hill, E. (2019). School-business partnerships and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Listening to employers. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 50, 365-377. doi:10.3233/JVR-191019

  • Gilson, C. B., & Carter, E. W. (2018). Video-based instruction to promote employment-related social behaviors for high school students with severe intellectual disability. Inclusion, 6, 175-193. doi: 10.1352/2326-6988-6.3.175

  • Gilson, C. B., Carter, E. W., Bumble, J. L., & McMillan, E. (2018). Family perspectives on integrated employment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 43, 20-37. doi:10.1177/1540796917751134

  • Mamun, A. A., Carter, E. W., Fraker, T. M., & Timmons, L. (2018). Impact of early work experiences on subsequent paid employment for young adults with disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 41, 212-222. doi:10.1177/2165143417726302

  • Biggs, E. E., & Carter, E. W. (2016). Quality of life for transition-age youth with autism or intellectual disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 190-204. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2563-x

  • Blustein, C. L., Carter, E. W., & McMillan, E. (2016). The voices of parents: Post–high school expectations, priorities, and concerns for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 50, 164-177. doi: 10.1177/0022466916641381

  • Carter, E. W., Blustein, C. L., Bumble, J. L., Harvey, S., Henderson, L., & McMillan, E. (2016). Engaging communities in identifying local strategies for expanding integrated employment during and after high school. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 121, 398-418. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-121.5

  • Boehm, T. L., Carter, E. W., & Taylor, J. L. (2015). Factors associated with family quality of life during the transition to adulthood for youth and young adults with developmental disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 120, 395-411. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-120.5.395.  

  • Carter, E. W., Boehm, T. L., Biggs, E. E., Annandale, N. H., Taylor, C., Logeman, A. K., & Liu, R. Y. (2015). Known for my strengths: Positive traits of transition-age youth with intellectual disability or autism. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 40, 101-119. doi: 10.1177/1540796915592158

  • Kucharczyk, S., Reutebuch, C. K., Carter, E. W., Hedges, S., Farah, E., Fan, H., & Gustafson, J. R. (2015). Addressing the needs of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Considerations and complexities for high school interventions. Exceptional Children, 81, 329-349. doi: 10.1177/0014402914563703

  • Carter, E. W., Brock, M. E., & Trainor, A. A. (2014). Transition assessment and planning for youth with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 47, 245-255. doi: 10.1177/0022466912456241

  • Carter, E. W., Lane, K. L., Cooney, M., Weir, K., Moss, C. K., & Machalicek, W. (2013). Parent assessments of self-determination importance and performance for students with autism or intellectual disability. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 88, 16-31. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-118.1.16

  • Carter, E. W., Lane, K. L., Cooney, M., Weir, K., Moss, C. K., & Machalicek, W. (2013). Self-determination among transition-age youth with autism or intellectual disability: Parent perspectives. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 38, 129-138. doi: 10.2511/027494813809330234

  • Carter, E. W., Austin, D., & Trainor, A. A. (2012). Predictors of postschool employment outcomes for young adults with severe disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23, 50-63. doi: 10.1177/1044207311414680

  • Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Swedeen, B., & Pickett, K. (2012). Community conversations: An approach for expanding and connecting opportunities for employment for adolescents with disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 35, 49-59. doi: 10.1177/0885728811419166

  • Solberg, V. S., Howard, K. A. S., Gresham, S. L., Phelps, L. A., & Carter, E. W. (2012). Quality learning experiences, self-determination, and academic success: A path analytic study among youth with disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 35, 85-96. doi: 10.1177/2165143412439887

  • Carter, E. W., Austin, D., & Trainor, A. A. (2011). Factors associated with the early work experiences of adolescents with severe disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49, 233-247. doi: 10.1352/1934-9556-49.4.233

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Ditchman, N., & Owens, L. A. (2011). A pilot study connecting youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties to summer work experiences. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 34, 95-106. doi: 10.1177/0885728810395745

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Ditchman, N., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2011). Community-based work experiences of adolescents with high-incidence disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 45, 89-103. doi: 10.1177/0022466909353204

  • Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Swedeen, B., Owens, L., Cole, O., & Smith, S. A. (2011). Perspectives of adolescents with disabilities on summer employment and community experiences. The Journal of Special Education, 45, 157-170. doi: 10.1177/0022466909359424

  • Carter, E. W., Ditchman, N., Sun, Y., Trainor, A. A., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2010). Summer employment and community experiences of transition-age youth with severe disabilities. Exceptional Children, 76, 194-212. doi: 10.1177/001440291007600204

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Cakiroglu, O., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2010). Availability of and access to career development activities for transition-age youth with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 33, 13-24. doi: 10.1177/0885728809344332

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Owens, L., Swedeen, B., & Sun, Y. (2010). Self-determination prospects of youth with high-incidence disabilities: Divergent perspectives and related factors. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 18, 67-81. doi: 10.1177/1063426609332605

  • Carter, E. W., Owens, L., Trainor, A. A., Sun, Y., & Swedeen, B. (2009). Self-determination skills and opportunities of adolescents with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 114, 179-192. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-114.3.179

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Cakiroglu, O., Cole, O., Swedeen, B., Ditchman, N., & Owens, L. (2009). Exploring school-business partnerships to expand career development and early work experiences for youth with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32, 145-159. doi: 10.1177/0885728809344590

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Ditchman, N., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2009). Evaluation of a multi-component intervention package to increase summer work experiences for transition-age youth with severe disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 34, 1-12. doi: 10.2511/rpsd.34.2.1

  • Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Sun, Y., & Owens, L. (2009). Assessing the transition-related strengths and needs of adolescents with high-incidence disabilities. Exceptional Children, 76, 74-94. doi: 10.1177/001440290907600104

  • Carter, E. W., Lane, K. L., Pierson, M. R., & Stang, K. K. (2008). Promoting self-determination for transition-age youth: Views of high school general and special educators. Exceptional Children, 75, 55-70. doi: 10.1177/001440290807500103

  • Pierson, M. R., Carter, E. W., Lane, K. L., & Glaeser, B. (2008). Factors influencing the self-determination of transition-age youth with high incidence disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31, 115-125. doi: 10.1177/0885728808317659

  • Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Owens, L., & Swedeen, B. (2008). Special educators’ perceptions of summer employment and community participation opportunities for youth with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31, 144-153. doi: 10.1177/0885728808323717

  • Carter, E. W., Lane, K. L., Pierson, M., & Glaeser, B. (2006). Self-determination skills and opportunities of transition-age youth with emotional disturbance and learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 72, 333-346. doi: 10.1177/001440290607200305

  • Chambers, C. R., & Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2004). Parent and sibling perspectives on the transition to adulthood. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 39, 79-94.

  • Hughes, C., Wehby, J. H., Carter, E. W., Plank, D. R., Wilson, L. R., Johnson, S. M., & Barton-Arwood, S. M. (2004). Summer activities of youth with high incidence disabilities from high poverty backgrounds. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 27, 27-42. doi: 10.1177/088572880402700103

  • Carter, E. W., & Wehby, J. H. (2003). Job performance of transition-age youth with emotional and behavioral disorders. Exceptional Children, 69, 449-465. doi: 10.1177/001440290306900404


reviews and other papers

  • Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Karpur, A., Martin, J. E., Mazzotti, V., Morningstar, M. E., & Rojewski, J. W. (in press). A framework for research in transition: Identifying important areas and intersections for future study. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals.

  • Lee, G. K., Chun, J., Hama, H., & Carter, E. W. (in press). Review of transition and vocational interventions for youths and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

  • Carter, E. W., McMillan, E., Willis, W., & TennesseeWorks Partnership. (2017). The TennesseeWorks Partnership: Elevating employment outcomes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 47, 365-378. doi:10.3233/JVR-170909. 

  • Gilson, C. B., Carter, E. W., & Biggs, E. E. (2017). Systematic review of instructional methods to teach employment skills to secondary students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 42, 89-107. doi: 10.1177/1540796917698831

  • Test, D. W., Smith, L., & Carter, E. W. (2014). Equipping youth with autism spectrum disorders for adulthood: Promoting rigor, relevance, and relationships. Remedial and Special Education, 35, 80-90. doi: 10.1177/0741932513514857

  • Carter, E. W., Brock, M. E., Bottema-Beutel, K., Bartholomew, A., Boehm, T. L., & Cease-Cook, J. (2013). Methodological trends in secondary education and transition research: Looking backward and moving forward. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 36, 15-24. doi: 10.1177/2165143413475659

  • Carter, E. W., Harvey, M. N., Taylor, J. L., & Gotham, K. (2013). Connecting youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorders to community life. Psychology in the Schools, 50, 888-898. doi: 10.1002/pits.21716

  • Lee, G. K., & Carter, E. W. (2012). Preparing transition-age students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders for meaningful work. Psychology in the Schools, 49, 988-1000. doi: 10.1002/pits.21651

  • Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2011). Transition supports: Equipping youth for adult life. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 35, 177-180. doi: 10.3233/JVR-2011-0567

  • Swedeen, B., Carter, E. W., & Molfenter, N. (2010). Getting everyone involved: Identifying transition opportunities for youth with severe disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 43(2), 38-49. doi: 10.1177/004005991004300204

  • Carter, E. W., Owens, L., Swedeen, B., Trainor, A. A., Thompson, C., Ditchman, N., & Cole, O. (2009). Conversations that matter: Expanding employment opportunities for youth with significant disabilities through community conversations. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 41(6), 38-46. doi: 10.1177/004005990904100603

  • Carter, E. W., Swedeen, B., & Trainor, A. A. (2009). The other three months: Connecting transition-age youth with disabilities to meaningful summer experiences. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 41(6), 18-26. doi: 10.1177/004005990904100603

  • Lane, K. L., & Carter, E. W. (2006). Supporting transition-age youth with and at-risk for emotional and behavioral disorders at the secondary level: A need for further inquiry. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities, 14, 66-70. doi: 10.1177/10634266060140020301

  • Carter, E. W., & Lunsford, L. B. (2005). Meaningful work: Preparing transition-age youth with emotional and behavioral disorders for employment. Preventing School Failure, 49(2), 63-69. doi: 10.3200/PSFL.49.2.63-69


chapters, books, and other publications

  • Gilson, C. B., Whirley, M., Carter, E. W., & Schutz, M. (in press). Teaching employment skills to people with intellectual and developmental disability. In P. Sturmey & R. Lang (Eds.), Adaptive behavior strategies for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. New York, NY: Springer.

  • Carter, E. W., Harutyunyan, M., & Azatyan, T. (2018). The transition to adulthood for youth with disabilities. In R. Ticha, B. Abery, C. Johnstone, A. Poghosyan, & P. F. Hunt (Eds.), Inclusive education strategies: A textbook (pp. 125-138). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota; Yerevan, Armenia: UNICEF Armenia & Armenian State Pedagogical University.

  • Carter, E. W., & Schutz, M. A. (in press). Transition preparation: Providing building-level supports in middle and high school. In K. Viezel, A. Davis, & S. Wilczynski (Eds.), Postsecondary transition for students with high-functioning autism (pp. TBD). New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.

  • Bouck, E., & Carter, E. W. (2018). Community participation and natural supports. In L. S. Brusnahan, R. Stodden, & S. Zucker (Eds.), Transition to adulthood: Work, community, and educational success. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

  • Carter, E. W. (2018). Supporting strong transitions for students with autism spectrum disorder. In Gelbar, N. (Ed.), Adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: A clinical handbook (pp. 171-195). New York, NY: Oxford University Press..

  • Shearer, B., Carter, E. W., Wendel, K., Jenkins, R., Bethune, L., Halman, M., & Gajjar, S. (2017). Toward a future of flourishing: Preparing youth with disabilities to transition successfully. Breaking Ground, 87, 18-19. 

  • Carter, E. W. (2015). What matters most: Toward a future of flourishing. TASH Connections, 41(3) 10-20. 

  • Carter, E. W. (2014). Postschool outcomes. In C. R. Reynolds, K. J. Vannest, and E. Fletcher-Janzen (Eds.), Encyclopedia of special education: A reference for the education of children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and other exceptional individuals (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

  • Carter, E. W., & McMillan, E. (2014). Pathways to meaningful employment for youth and young adults with significant disabilities. TASH Connections, 40(1), 6-7.    

  • Carter, E. W., & Unruh, D. K. (2012). Transition education for adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders. In M. L. Wehmeyer & K. W. Webb (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent transition education for youth with disabilities (pp. 454-474). New York, NY: Routledge. 

  • Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2012). The new transition handbook: Strategies secondary school teachers use that work. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

  • Carter, E. W. (2010). Promoting self-determination among transition-age youth with emotional/behavioral disorders: Promising practices. In D. Cheney (Ed.), Transition of students with emotional and behavioral disabilities: Current approaches for positive outcomes (pp. 51-78; 2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Research Press.

  • Carter, E. W., & Draper, J. (2010). Making school matter: Supporting meaningful secondary experiences for adolescents who use AAC. In D. McNaughton & D. R., Beukelman (Eds.), Transition strategies for adolescents and young adults who use augmentative and alternative communication (pp. 69-90). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing. 

  • Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2002). Informal assessment procedures. In C. Sax & C. Thoma (Eds.), Transition assessment: Wise practices for quality lives (pp. 51-69). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

  • Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2001). Supporting the transition from school to work and adult life. In P. Wehman (Ed.), Supported employment in business: Expanding the capacities of workers with disabilities (pp. 239-250). St. Augustine, FL: Training Resource Network.

  • Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2000). The transition handbook: Strategies high school teachers use that work. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.