Katie Apostolides, who has Down Syndrome, graduated in 2009 from Mount Aloysius College in Cresson, Pennsylvania with an associate’s degree in science. This makes her one of the first (if not the first) individuals with Down Syndrome to complete a post-secondary degree. She has had a number of news articles follow her academic progress, including one in the New York Times,which noted that “she is at the forefront of a wave of cognitively challenged students who are demanding, and gaining, a place on campus nationwide.”
The article noted that there are over 100 programs nationwide that place cognitively impaired students in post-secondary classrooms and dormitories (note, however, that students with intellectual disabilities still find it difficult to be accepted in residential programs – see, for example the story of one cognitively impaired student who was denied the right to live in a dormitory at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, as a result of a judge’s court order). I’d be interested in hearing of other students with intellectual disabilities who are engaged in post-secondary programs, and/or about to graduate from them. Stories like Katie’s serve as a wake-up call for those who place arbitrary limits on what people with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities can achieve. It also serves as an inspirational model for all of us concerning what can happen when a person with a cognitive disability refuses to be limited by other people’s expectations.
For more about neurodiverse individuals and their strengths, see my books The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain, and Neurodiversity in the Classroom: Strategies to Help Students with Special Needs Succeed in School and Life.