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Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2016

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Ed.D. Capstone Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Ginger MacDonald

Second Advisor

Katie Haerling

Third Advisor

Tracy Jirikowic


Young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) enter postsecondary education (PSE) at increasing rates. Many continue to demonstrate persisting adaptive behavior needs that impede academic and employment outcomes. This qualitative case study explored one Northwest PSE program educating students with IDD regarding persisting adaptive behavior needs and whether the needs fell under the purview of occupational therapy (OT). It was the researcher’s assumption that gaining an understanding of student needs would provide cognizance of potential OT services. Thirty-two participants were recruited through both purposive and snowball sampling including: administrators; instructors; related services providers; parents or guardians; and students. In depth interview served as the primary data collection method. Supportive methods included: demographic survey, class observation, document review, the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II (Sparrow, Cicchetti, & Balla, 2005), and researcher reflections. Data were organized, coded, then analyzed in relation to research questions. Findings were organized by five analytic categories derived from relevant text and research questions. The research revealed adaptive behavior skills were persisting areas of challenge falling within the scope of practice of OT yet nearly half the participants were unfamiliar with the profession. Participants described the importance of an open and accepting campus community with program success attributed to student personal characteristics and interaction with naturally accommodating faculty. All participants desired student attainment of optimal independence, employment, relationships, and community acceptance. Recommendations are offered to the profession of OT and to post-high school programs regarding the role and function of OT to serve students with IDD in PSE.