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Their Time Has Come

Youth with Disabilities on the Cusp of Adulthood

The lives of youth with disabilities have changed radically in the past fifty years. Youth who are coming of age right now are the first generation to receive educational services throughout childhood and adolescence. Disability policies have opened up opportunities to youth, and they have responded by getting higher levels of education than ever before. Yet many youth are being left behind, compared to their peers without disabilities. Youth with disabilities often still face major obstacles to independence.

In Their Time Has Come, Valerie Leiter argues that there are crucial missing links between federal disability policies and the lives of young people. Youth and their parents struggle to gather information about the resources that disability policies have created, and youth are not typically prepared to use their disability rights effectively. Her argument is based on thorough examination of federal disability policy and interviews with young people with disabilities, their parents, and rehabilitation professionals. Attention is given to the diversity of expectations, the resources available to them, and the impact of federal policy and public and private attitudes on their transition to adulthood.

Author Information

VALERIE LEITER is an associate professor of sociology and the chair of the department of sociology at Simmons College. She is the coeditor of Health and Health Care as Social Problems and The Sociology of Health & Illness: Critical Perspectives, ninth edition.


"Leiter’s insights into the experiences and challenges of adolescents with disabilities transitioning to adulthood highlight the difficult choices we face in an era of limited public resources."
— Richard K. Scotch, professor of sociology and public policy, University of Texas at Dallas

"The focus and quality of Their Time Has Come is unmatched. Leiter provides a compelling and innovative account of the ongoing social changes in the treatment of children with disabilities."
— Dennis Hogan, Robert E. Turner distinguished professor of Population Studies, Brown University

"Highly recommended."
— Choice

Audience: Professional and scholarly;