A new book edited by School of Education professors Michael Gill and Beth Myers gives voice to young adults with intellectual disability and their experiences of higher education. Creating Our Own Lives: College Students with Intellectual Disability (Minnesota, 2023) offers a powerful challenge to assumptions that intellectual disability is b met with protection or segregation.
The book records the first generation of students enrolled in inclusive higher education programs. It is also a resource of information and inspiration for parents seeking opportunities for their children and for individuals with intellectual disability who aspire to attend college. The essays expose and contradict the inherently ableist claim that individuals with intellectual disability cannot be reliable storytellers. Instead, these deeply informative stories serve as a corrective narrative.
The first of the four sections—“Laying the Foundation: Why Everyone Belongs in College”—focuses on belonging and inclusion. The second—“Opening Up Possibilities: Overcoming Doubt and Uncertainty”—conveys the optimism of this generation of advocates through stories of personal hardship, hopeful perseverance, and triumph over adversity. “Inclusion as Action: Diversifying Student Experiences” supports the understanding of diverse student experiences in inclusive higher education. The final section—“Supporting Growth: Peer Mentoring and Advice”—offers guidance to those reimagining and creating educational spaces.
Michael Gill, an associate professor in the School of Education, is author of Allergic Intimacies: Food, Disability, Desire, and Risk (Fordham, 2023) and Already Doing It: Intellectual Disability and Sexual Agency (Minnesota, 2015). Beth Myers is Lawrence B. Taishoff Professor of Inclusive Education at the School of Education and Executive Director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education.