The transition to adulthood of people with severe intellectual disabilities is not well researched or understood. This research expands our understanding of the transition to adulthood as a social and legal construct by exploring and theorising the lived experience of people with severe intellectual impairments and their supporters, using Queensland as a case study. Examining the lived experience of people with severe intellectual disabilities allows us to bring less visible issues of adulthood, citizenship, capacity and inclusion into focus. The research places these shared understandings within theoretical landscapes of personhood and citizenship, impairment and disability, medical and social models of disability, and ideas about difference and inclusion. By accounting for people with severe and profound intellectual disabilities, disability itself can be more honestly theorised and understood.
This research will explore these complex issues in theory and practice by conducting original theoretical and empirical research into the transition to adulthood of people with severe intellectual disabilities in the Australian legal context. Twenty in-depth interviews will be conducted in Queensland with participant pairs consisting of a person with severe intellectual disabilities, and a person who supported (or made) their legal decisions during their transition to adulthood. Interview participants will be recruited using snowball sampling, and interviews conducted and analysed using a constructivist grounded theory methodology. The project will increase knowledge and understanding of the legal and administrative barriers and gateways faced by people with severe intellectual disabilities as they and their supporters navigate the regulatory systems of adulthood in Australia, and will inform our understanding of the often invisible social and legal assumptions made about adulthood, citizenship and disability in society.