Advocates have been pushing the state to consider allowing students to continue their education until the end of this school year. Under the current rules, there’s no way for them to make up for the lost time.

That’s something a small but passionate group of advocates and legislators want to press the state to change. But their efforts could get drowned out by the noise of the pandemic and the state budget, as happened in the spring. During the last legislative session, both the state House and Senate weighed bills that would have extended programming for young adults until the end of the school year. But those efforts were sidelined by a short session that focused on a response to the coronavirus pandemic and emergency changes to the state’s budgets.

Beyond legislation, the coronavirus pandemic has overshadowed other efforts to improve special education services for students.

In the meantime, Marren and other 21-year-old students face a stark deadline: the abrupt disruption of the transitional programming that is supposed to launch them into adulthood.

Meghan Maureen Burke, an associate professor of special education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said without proper preparation for adults with disabilities to live independently, there can be tragic outcomes.

“We see that youth with disabilities compared to their peers without disabilities have worse employment outcomes. They’re less likely to be employed. They are less likely to attend college. If they do attend college they’re more likely to drop out of college,” she said.

Read the full article about young adults with disabilities by Samantha Smylie at Chalkbeat Chicago.