Thousands of students with disabilities are set to 'age out' of school. After a pandemic year, they may get more time to prepare for what's next.


This was supposed to be the year that Jake Smith got a lot of hands-on practice working and doing tasks on his own as he got ready for life after school.

Jake has autism and Down syndrome and is in a life skills program at a high school in Harford County, Maryland. He is one of the thousands of young adults with disabilities in the U.S. who are over 18 but still in school — usually in publicly funded transitional programs that offer hands-on job training or time to learn life skills, like doing laundry or shopping for groceries.

Just before the pandemic hit, Jake’s mother, Tracy Smith, was encouraged by the progress her son made getting to class on his own and learning to vacuum at his job at a local hospice. But when school went virtual and work stopped, a lot of plans went out the window.


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