Transition to
Post-Secondary Life

Post-Secondary Educational Opportunities


In community colleges across Ontario, the Community Integration through Cooperative Education Certificate Programme (CICE) offers opportunities for post-secondary students with intellectual disabilities to follow a two-year course of study. These are inclusive programmes, with competitive application procedures, but it is widely agreed that they send graduates out into the world with enhanced abilities and relevant job skills.

Ontario students with Down syndrome have attended CICE programs in various colleges around the province. They have had different living arrangements: some have bussed to campus from home, while others stayed in apartments near the campus, and a few have lived in residence. Some have taken out student loans to pay their tuition, while others have used their savings. All have agreed that community college was a wonderful experience which helped them develop their independence and problem-solving skills and provided them with clarity about their future career directions.

Here are links to some representative CICE program websites:

Fleming College
Lambton College
Fanshaw College
Georgian College
Sault College

King’s College, London

The Disability Studies Department at King’s University College in London has created a program that uses a design that may be unique in the world.  The program is called the Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Co-Learning Pathway, and it brings Community Participants (people with IDD) together with Disability Studies students to co-learn in specially designed courses. These courses centre the lived experience of the Community Participants and offer them many ways of communicating and learning with their King’s College counterparts.

The IDD Co-Learning Pathway program is in the development stage, and it does not yet provide a full- or even part-time option for people with Down syndrome who are transitioning to post-Secondary life.  It does, however, testify to the importance of expanding the range and type of post-secondary options that are available for young adults with Down syndrome.


Adulthood lasts a long time, and people with Down syndrome and their families will encounter many joys and challenges as they journey together.  It is important to stay up to date on the issues that may arise by reading ahead about issues and positive approaches.  These are some key texts that can inform the transition to post-secondary:

Etmanski, A., Collins, J., Cammack, V., & Styan, J. (2009). Safe and secure: six steps to creating a good life for people with disabilities (RDSP ed.). Vancouver, B.C: PLAN.

Medlen, Joan E. Guthrie. (2006). The Down syndrome Nutrition Handbook: A Guide to Promoting Healthy Lifestyles. Portland, OR: Phronesis Publishing, LLC.

McGuire, D. E., & Chicoine, B. (2021). Mental wellness in adults with Down syndrome: a guide to emotional and behavioral strengths and challenges. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

Simons, J. A. (2010). The Down syndrome Transition Handbook: Charting your child’s course to adulthood. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.