College Is for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Edie Cusack

For most young adults, the years after high school are the years when they move out of their family home, navigate independence for the first time, and figure who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Unfortunately, this type of transition is rare for students with intellectual difficulties according to Edie Cusack. Life for this population tends to slow down considerably when they graduate from high school. But college can be an inclusive educational experience for students with intellectual difficulties that prepares them for productive and meaningful lives.

Aside from assisting these students, this talk challenges the commonly held mindset of benevolence toward an entire section of a population does not allow for equal treatment in the pursuit of a happy and productive life. Students with intellectual difficulties can work, live, and be contributing members of society — and that the label of “disability” cannot and should not determine a person’s potential or future.  

Edie Cusack has been advocating and educating students with intellectual disabilities for over 30 years. Inclusion and self-determination are the philosophies she incorporated into the REACH Program at the College of Charleston when she created and developed it in 2010.  She works with universities around the world to develop college programs for student with intellectual disabilities.