An Analysis of Literature on Disability and Fear through Life

Elise Anguizola Assaf, Shayne Brophy, Jennifer James, and Sneha Kohli Mathur



The following paper reviews current literature to explore how disability and fear are intertwined. Specifically, fear is looked at through three stages of life: (a) primary and secondary education, (b) higher education, and (c) adult life. Research revealed that fear has wide reaching effects, and can impact motivation, self-concept, and self-advocacy. Several themes emerged and were consistent across the lifetime, including fear of discovery and stigmatization, and the related consequences, such as bullying, exclusion, and loss of independence.



Fear, or being afraid, is a typical response to situations or stimuli (King & Ollendick, 1989). This response is adaptive and necessary for survival, although it can become problematic when the fears are excessive or persistent (King & Ollendick, 1989). In a review of the literature, Li and Morris (2007), found that the expression of fear is related to developmental age. Children in elementary school typically report being fearful of the unknown (i.e. loud noises or supernatural beings) and physical harm, while as they transition to middle school and beyond, their fears become more social and performance related (Li and Morris, 2007).

In the literature, anxiety, or apprehension without the presence of threatening stimuli, is often used loosely and interchangeably with fear (King & Ollendick, 1989; Li & Morris, 2007). Atkinson (1957) found anxiety is often caused by the fear of failure. People therefore often avoid risk-taking behavior to avoid the shame and humiliation associated with failure (Atkinson, 1957). This can affect motivation, as completing a task depends on the value of the task and the likelihood the task will occur (Atkinson, 1957). Thus, if a task is perceived to be difficult, or is not considered important by the individual, then the likelihood of completing the task decreases.

The purpose of this literature review is to explore the literature surrounding fear and disability across the lifespan, in order to discover (a) reoccurring themes and (b) the impact that fear has on the lives of people with disabilities. As a note, the use of disability and impairment are used interchangeably throughout this article.



For the present literature review, the collection of documents was guided by three areas of interest when considering fear and disability: (a) primary and secondary education, (b) higher education, and (c) adult life. Documents compiled for the review include research published in professional journals, books, and disability organizations. Initial searches were not restricted to a specific date range. Quantitative and qualitative studies are included, as well as a variety of inclusion topics from classroom settings to community living.

The collection of articles was non-systematic. Initial articles were found using EBSCO ERIC, Lexis, PsychInfo, Psych Articles, and Academic Search Premier through the Leatherby Libraries website on the Chapman University webpage, as well as the Discover aggregated database. Keywords such as disability, fear, stigma, inclusion, higher education, community living, independent living, self-concept, and community integration were used individually and in combination with one another. Results were limited to full text, scholarly (peer reviewed) journals, with no publication date range. There was no limitation on country of origin, but the text was required to be in English. From those preliminary articles, the ancestry approach was used to analyze reference sections for related articles.


Literature Review

The following sections examine the qualitative and quantitative data connecting fear or anxieties, and disability. In addition, fear and disability across various times in a person’s life is explored. It is hypothesized that people with disabilities may have a unique set of fears that follow them through their lifetime.


Fear and Disability

People with disabilities often experience functional limitations in major life activities (Barkley & Fisher, 2011; Stamp, Banerjee, & Brown, 2014). These limitations can affect self-management, behavior, and social interactions, which Stamp et al. (2014) found created a fear of stigma and a fear of judgement. This anxiety surrounding performance evaluations against a perceived standard of excellence, can result in a fear of failure, and thus a decrease in motivation (Atkinson, 1957).

According to a study conducted by Macleod, Lewis, and Robertson (2013), identity for a person with a disability can be affected by positive and negative reactions from outsiders to the disability. In an effort to fit in, people who feel stigmatized by their disability may attempt to hide their differences (Bogart, 2014). Although people feel comfortable disclosing disabilities to their friends, the fear of judgement and stigmatization has been shown to make people reluctant to disclose their disabilities in educational or work settings (Stamp et al., 2014). Students believe that if they disclose their disabilities, adults may have negative beliefs about their abilities, may believe students are trying to create excuses for low performance, or that adults may change their expectations (Stamp et al., 2014).

Any stigma toward disability creates a deficit in social identity for a person with a disability, affecting their self-concept (Macleod, 2013; Tajfel & Turner, 1979). This is of concern, as Ahmed, Minnaert, Kuyper, & van der Werf (2012) found, that there is a reciprocal relationship between self-concept and anxiety. Additionally, research has shown that self-concept has a reciprocal relationship with academic achievement (Hamachek, 1995) and social interactions (Bossaert, Colpin, Pijl, & Petry, 2013; Kucuker and Tekinarslan, 2015). Furthermore, people who experience low self-concepts and difficulties with social interactions report higher levels of anxiety, as they fear social rejection (McWhirter, 1990). Due to the connection with self-concept, the effects of anxiety may be far reaching.


Primary and Secondary Education

Students with disabilities often encounter fearful scenarios in primary and secondary education settings, as do parents and faculty members. Anxiety has been found to correlate with lower self-concept ratings, including fear of failure and fear of criticism (Cordery, 1986; Li & Morris, 2007). Fear of misplacement in an inclusive classroom (Kluth, Villa, & Thousand 2002), fear of bullying (Saylor & Leach, 2008), and fear of discovery have also been witnessed in the K-12 environment.

Anxiety in the School Setting. Research has shown that school-aged children with disabilities tend to have a higher prevalence of mental illness than do peers without disabilities (Li & Morris, 2007; Li & Prevatt, 2007). In addition, research has found that girls experience more test anxiety (Lohbeck, Nitkowski, & Petermann, 2016), and higher levels of fear in general when compared to boys (Li & Prevatt; 2007). The difference in fear and gender is not unique to students with disabilities, but rather it is pervasive across school settings (King & Ollendick, 1989; Li & Prevatt, 2007; Lohbeck et al., 2016).

In students with learning disabilities, students with lower self-concept ratings reported higher levels of anxiety and a feeling that events were often beyond their control (Cordery, 1986). They also reported high levels of fear of failure and fear of criticism (Li & Morris, 2007). Li and Morris (2007) hypothesize that this finding may be due to the fact that students with learning disabilities realize that they learn differently at an early age and unsuccessful academic and social performances may increase their levels of such fears.

When comparing students with learning disabilities and mild mental retardation [sic], Li and Morris (2007) did not find significant differences between their self-reported fears. Instead, they reaffirmed previous research (King & Ollendick, 1989; Morris & Kratochwill; 1983) and found that differences were typically moderated by age. In addition, teachers and adults often underestimated the extent to which children were experiencing fear in self-contained settings (Li & Morris, 2007).

Inclusion. With the assistance of legal mandates, inclusion has transitioned from an idea proposed by advocates to a requirement for schools through Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) component, which states that “children with disabilities…are educated with children who are not disabled” (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, 2004, §1412). In 1990, 25% of preschool through high school students with disabilities spent at least 60% of their school day in general education classrooms. As of the fall of 2011, that number had doubled in direct response to the LRE (Kliewer, Biklen & Peterson, 2015). Litigation regarding LRE has also indicated that LRE provisions “…require full inclusion in the regular classroom with supplementary aides and services as the preferred site whenever possible” (Murdick, Gartin, & Crabtree, 2002).

A sense of belonging has been said to be important throughout life, leading one to believe that inclusive scenarios are beneficial to students with disabilities in preventing poor affective outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness (Prince & Hadwin, 2012). There are a multitude of potential fears toward inclusion, including the potential of fear of discovery, fear of being left out, fear of being bullied; many of these areas require more research in order to fully understand the feelings and emotions of those involved. One area already researched concerns teachers and their fears in their ability to deliver curriculum to a diverse population of students (Niles, 2005). Niles (2005) reiterates Idol’s (2002) belief that teachers may be fearful of being forced to change their teaching style in order to remain inclusive, or that teachers may need to offer behavior management that is “unique, complicated, and never ending” (p.3).

Inclusion in Classrooms. According to Kluth, Villa, & Thousand (2002), some parents and teachers may have the concern that a student is “too disabled to be educated in a regular classroom” (p. 25), corresponding to their fear of correct placement in the educational setting. The authors suggest students with and without disabilities do not need to compete with one another or highlight educational advances comparatively in order to benefit from the curriculum. Allowing for involvement in learning material, creating varied contexts to demonstrate competence, and demonstrating new skills can just as easily be the benchmark for success. They noted that, “the goal of inclusion in schools is to create a world in which all people are knowledgeable about and supportive of all other people” (Stainback, Stainback, East, & Sapon-Shevin, 1994, p. 487), but in order to do so, school leaders and teachers must find a way to acknowledge differences by offering necessary assistance, while creating a common context for all and preventing a fear of discovery.

Bullying. One factor associated with the integration of inclusive classrooms is the research indicating that students with disabilities may be at a greater risk for bullying and victimization as compared to their peers (Saylor & Leach, 2008). Recent literature has highlighted the higher risk of bullying of students with learning problems, behavior problems, and learning disabilities (Humphrey, Storch, & Geffkin, 2007; Baumeister, Storch, & Geffken, 2008). Saylor & Leach (2008) found that students with disabilities were significantly more likely to report peer victimization, anxiety about peer violence, and fear and anxiety about harassment, physical injury, and school safety. These findings were associated with students with disabilities in self-contained classrooms, leading the researchers to believe that the social isolation and lack of social skills from these environments increases the possibility of bullying by peers. Inclusive classrooms, on the other hand, may increase a student’s ability to “fit in,” increasing their confidence and self-esteem, decreasing the likelihood of being bullied.


Higher Education

Wagner et al. (2007) explored post-secondary aspirations of students with and without disabilities and identified there was little difference between students when they were asked if they believed they would graduate from high school. There were, however, differences when students were asked about post-secondary education. When compared to nondisabled peers, students with disabilities reported being less sure if they would continue their education. This may be linked to the belief that post-secondary education is more difficult, and therefore students with disabilities are less motivated to attend because of the fear of failure and the stigmas associated with having a disability.

As of 2009, 11% of students enrolled in higher education identify as having a disability, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. This percentage includes students with visible or physical disabilities and invisible disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, learning disability, or psychological disability. The percentage of students with a diagnosed disability will continue to increase as a result of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, which specifically included a mandate to improve secondary-to-postsecondary transition services (McGregor et. al., 2016). While strides have been made in increasing enrollment for students with disabilities, students continue to confront degree completion barriers (Jacklin & Robinson, 2007). For example, the postsecondary graduation rate for students with autism spectrum disorder is only 20% (MacLeod, Lewis, & Robertson, 2013). The statistic for students with psychological disabilities is equally dismal, with 86% of students dropping out of higher education compared with 45% of the general population (Stein, 2013).

One significant barrier to graduation for students with disabilities is deciding whether or not to disclose disability to faculty (Trammell, 2009). The burden to disclose disability is on the student, who must provide documentation of disability to campus Disability Support Services and, if asked, to faculty (McGregor et al., 2016). McGregor et al. (2016) stated that self disclosure is viewed as a risk by students with disabilities because of the fear of stigma that accompanies the disability label. Student success is increased through accommodations, which can only be granted through disclosure of disability to faculty; however, only a fraction of students with learning disabilities choose to reveal disability to faculty. A survey of students in higher education with learning disabilities conducted by Newman et al. (2011) found that “only 24.2 percent disclosed their learning disability status to post-secondary staff” (p. 61).

Macleod, Lewis, and Robertson (2013) found that the identity for a person with a disability can be affected by positive and negative reactions from outsiders to the disability. Disclosing disability may create anxiety for students, as they fear that knowledge of their disability will create a stigmatized disability identity in the classroom and on campus (Trammell, 2009). According to research conducted by Stein (2013), while few students with invisible disabilities choose to self-disclose disability, the disclosure is imperative in receiving accommodations that will improve success rates.

The goal of disclosure is to lead to accommodations; however, disclosure can also lead to discrimination (Trammell, 2009). One student reported being made to feel like he was second class by being placed in a special education class due to his disability in high school. Now that he is in college he wants to “not even tell teachers because I don’t want special treatment. I want to be on my own” (Yssel, Pak, and Beilke, 2016, p. 389). By not disclosing his disability in college, he is taking control of the construction of his identity as a college student. He is making a conscious choice not to join the group of students with disabilities due to how membership in that group made him feel. After years of having disability disclosed for him through assignment in special education classes, he is now free to change his identity through aligning with students without disabilities. Although students with disabilities are enrolling in higher education in greater numbers, post-secondary institutions are unprepared to offer more than the federal mandate of “equal access” and standard accommodations (Hong, 2015).

For a student, the lack of disability support from the institution and the myriad of social interactions on campus creates a fear of stigma, which “is a response to the dilemma of difference” (Coleman Brown, 2013, p. 147). This dilemma was reflected in students reporting feeling conflicted between wanting to be viewed as normal by peers and accepting disability in college (Hong, 2015). Disability needs to be seen as an issue that the institution plays a part in, instead of focusing on the disability as being the student’s problem (Jacklin & Robinson, 2007). The oppression of people with disabilities is an issue that rests within the stigmatizer and not the stigmatized, as stigmatizers position themselves as superior and those with disabilities are enslaved to inferior position in society (Coleman Brown, 2013).

Student Interactions with Faculty. Of all the interactions a student with disability experiences in higher education, one of the most important to the entire college experience is the student’s interactions with faculty (Trammell, 2009). These critical interactions often begin in the liberal arts general education classes and last throughout the student’s specific field of study (Grossman, 2001). In a 2016 study by McGregor et al., students reported finding “university faculty to be inaccessible, and communication with faculty and staff to be confusing” (p. 99). Students are required to disclose disability to faculty, which can be problematic if the student finds a faculty member to be inaccessible, as disclosure involves revealing personal information that can be harmful to the student (Trammel, 2009).

In addition, the risky act of revealing disability can lead to discrimination (Trammell, 2009). Participants reported in a qualitative study of students with psychological disabilities by Stein (2013) that the reluctance to reveal disability to instructors stemmed from a fear of stigma. Stein discovered through the study that “those who did disclose a psychological disability only did so when their symptoms were evident or interfered with their ability to meet course expectations” (p. 157). One student in the Stein study stated, “as far as professors, there isn’t anyone I can think of that I would want to talk to about it. I’ve had it used against me” (p. 155). Students with learning disabilities also resist discussing disability with faculty unless the severity of the disability requires accommodations (McGregor et al., 2016).

The stigma resulting from disclosing disability results in only 33% of students requesting accommodations (McGregor et al., 2016). Students fear faculty will not be understanding because faculty will perceive students as trying to manipulate the system through accommodations (Denhart, 2008). A study conducted by Kurth and Mellard (2006) showed how this perception leads to some students feeling misunderstood and discriminated against. While students want to feel a sense of belonging on the college campus, faculty can make students feel like the disability may prevent them from succeeding in the class (Kurth & Mellard, 2006). One student with a visual impairment that was interviewed in a study by Kurth and Mellard (2006), reported that she often feels that faculty do not expect much from her once she discusses her disability with them (p. 10). In another study by Denhart (2008), a student reported that a professor said, “well, I don’t know if you need to be taking this class if you have a learning disability” (p. 9). Still another student reported that instead of being granted accommodations, the professor told the student to “test yourself at home to make it so that you can meet the time requirement” (Hutcheon & Wolbring, 2012, p. 45). These experiences reflect the risk students take in disclosing disability to faculty.

Due to stigma, students reported waiting a few weeks to try taking class notes without the help of a note taker (Stein, 2013). In the quantitative component of the Kurth and Mellard study (2006), students reported that note taking was the most effective accommodation. The delay in requesting a note taker can negatively affect the student’s ability to succeed in the class. Stigma is also associated with modifications to exams, such as extended time on tests and taking tests in a separate setting. Some faculty feel the testing accommodations are not fair to the other students taking the test within a limited time frame (Grossman, 2001). Frequent breaks during class is another accommodation students find necessary. However, students state concern that faculty will view the accommodation as asking for special treatment, so students do not utilize the accommodation (Stein, 2013). Although utilizing accommodations is associated with positive outcomes, students report waiting until grades drop to request accommodations (McGregor et al., 2016).

A determining component of successful outcomes in a class is how empathetic and approachable students view faculty (Orr & Hammig, 2009). Students that receive accommodations are able to complete assignments with less difficulty than peers that do not utilize accommodations (McGregor, et al., 2016). In order to receive necessary accommodations, one student reported that students with disabilities have “to accept the fact that they need help” (Yssel et al., 2016, p. 388).  Faculty attitudes often prevent students from discussing accommodation needs, and students often do not know how to initiate a conversation with faculty regarding accommodations (Yssel et al., 2016).

A reciprocal relationship between student and faculty in which the student feels comfortable discussing disability with faculty is necessary in a student’s ability to overcome barriers to education (Yssel et al., 2016). For example, one student with a visual impairment reported relief when faculty did not assume that all students with visual impairments needed the same accommodations (Yssel et al., 2016). In addition, Yssel et al. (2016) found that faculty that are open to discussing disability understand that each student with disabilities has unique needs for accommodations. Students who are comfortable interacting with faculty inside the classroom are more likely to seek out additional contact with faculty outside of the classroom, which will alleviate fears and help students navigate obstacles to learning and achieve successful outcomes (McGregor et al., 2016).


Adult Life

During the transition into higher education, many young adults are presented with the opportunity to move out of their parents’ home or live independently for the first time in their lives (DePoy & Werrbach, 1996).  According to the University of Minnesota Policy Research Brief (2011), up until the 1980s, independent living options were not even considered for people with autism spectrum disorder and other intellectual or developmental disabilities.  Instead, they lived in private institutions or group homes that were certified as Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICF-MR).  However, within the last 50 years there has been a push for community integration and participation for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  For many families, institutionalization was thought to be the only option for their adult children, and the concept of community living provoked feelings of fear and uncertainty (Jones & Gallus, 2016).

According to a survey conducted by Autism Speaks (2013), some concerns that caregivers had in regards to community living for their adult children included how their child would be treated in the community, how they would pay for their child’s home and support services, and how safety and well-being issues would be addressed for their child. Adults with autism spectrum disorder who responded to the survey reported fears and concerns related to finances, social isolation, a reduction of family support, and a lack of respect from service providers, peers, and community members.

The Autism Speaks (2013) survey showed that almost half of the caregivers (46%) still believed that the ideal living situation for their adult child was at home with the individual’s family. This reflects the fears that family members surrounding the ability of their adult child to live independently. On the other hand, the preferred living arrangements from those with autism spectrum disorder were living in their own home, or living with a roommate.

Ultimately, successful community living experiences depend on a combination of the adult’s personal, social, and environmental factors (DePoy & Werrbach, 1996). Cocks, Thoresen, Williamson, and Boaden (2014) created an Individual Supported Living manual to assist individuals, families, and caretakers tin supporting adults with disabilities in successfully transitioning into community living. This manual focuses on the importance of assessing each individual’s unique needs in order to create a successful transition into community living. While there is limited research on the transition to independent living for adults with disabilities, the research described above highlights the importance of assessing each individual’s unique needs in order to minimize anxieties and fear to create a successful transition into community living (Cocks, Thoresen, Williamson, & Boaden, 2014; DePoy & Werrbach, 1996).

Another area of transitioning into adulthood has to do with employment opportunities.  According to Griffiths, Giannantonio, Hurley-Hanson, and Cardinal (2016), two common concerns for parents were that their adult child would be taken advantage of within the workplace, and that safety issues may arise without the right supervision.  The authors further elaborate that individuals with disabilities have fostered feelings of failure throughout their academic and social experiences, leading to feelings of depression and less motivation to seek out employment, which can be perceived as another opportunity for rejection or failure.  It is important to understand these fears and concerns in order to best support adults with disabilities because meaningful employment can lead to financial support and independence, higher quality of life, a sense of safety, and a sense of belonging in the community (Griffiths, Giannantonio, Hurley-Hanson, & Cardinal, 2016).



The review of literature into how fear affects people with disabilities reveals that failure and lack of achievement decreases motivation (Atkinson, 1957) and that past success should increase motivation. Therefore, we need to focus on teaching self-advocacy skills at a young age in order to decrease fear throughout life.

Self-advocacy creates a positive change in self-concept, as one links their identity with the identity of the group, thus reducing the feeling of being singled out (Ryan & Griffiths, 2015). This may be an important piece in reducing fear. Students often understand they are expected to approach staff for help, but many do not because of the stigma associated with disclosing a disability (Stamp et al, 2014). Additionally, students felt as though they did not learn, how to ask for help in high school (Stamp et al, 2014). Thus, they lacked this skill when transitioning to college.

Fear continues to be an issue affecting identity formation as students with disabilities transition through primary and secondary education. A few factors that may cause fear  include inclusion, bullying, and a desire to participate in extracurricular activities. In regard to inclusion, according to Kluth, Villa, & Thousand (2002), some parents and teachers may have the concern that a student is too impacted to be in a regular classroom, and if placed there, they may be singled out because of their differences. Saylor & Leach (2008) found that students with disabilities were significantly more likely to report peer victimization, anxiety about peer violence, and fear and anxiety about harassment, physical injury, and school safety. In addition to bullying, a fear of discovery affects a student’s participation in extracurricular activities, such as sports. A comparative way of thinking may bring heightened awareness of a disability, resulting in fear of bullying or exclusion. This may prevent families or individuals from participating in the extracurricular activity.

As students transition to higher education, the fear of being stigmatized by professors due to disability may hinder a student’s ability to assimilate into college. While the views expressed in qualitative studies which focused on faculty perceptions of students with disabilities were positive, the students’ attitudes in the studies revealed hesitancy and fear in disclosing disability to faculty (Grossman, 2001). Yet, these positive responses from faculty are important because the relationship between faculty and student is the most important relationship to evolve during post-secondary education (Grossman, 2001). A student’s identity is continually evolving while in college, and it can be affected by perception of performance in class and the grades given (Barnes, 2007). Faculty can work toward creating a stigma-free environment by structuring classes for all learners. This can be accomplished through faculty viewing an accommodation that is beneficial to a student with a disability as beneficial to all students. The goal should be to support all students instead of just making accommodations for students with disabilities. Once an accessible and inclusive classroom is created by the faculty, the student may be empowered to form a positive identity as an independent student, instead of coping with a stigmatized identity as a student with a disability seeking out accommodations from faculty.

As students with disabilities transition into adult life, they face further challenges that can result in fears and anxieties. Often times, these challenges stem from the person’s desired to live independently. They often encounter difficulties due to the beliefs their family member hold, as well as community at large. It is important to note that assessing a person’s unique needs, as well as creating a comprehensive plan, can help to lessen the fear held by both the person with the disability and their family members.



This review of literature faced a few limitations. First, the types of articles collected were required to be full text of the Leatherby Libraries website in order to analyze and understand the content of each piece. Secondly, no additional libraries or research platforms were used to collect articles for review. Additional platforms may have provided substantially more articles to be reviewed and considered. Thirdly, the quality of each research article was not analyzed. Future research may consider the number of times each article was previously cited in other articles to decipher if the article is relevant and should be considered a high quality addition.

In addition, the research was found to have limitations. One limitation is that there are inherent difficulties when measuring self-referent concepts like fear, anxiety, and self-concept. There are also challenges when working with people with more severe disabilities, as standardized measures cannot usually be used. Instead, researchers must adapt the measures to facilitate the understanding of the person with a disability. Moreover, the qualitative studies that researched the perceptions of students and faculty regarding disability in college were limited in size and the voluntary nature of the studies. Finally, most research in the articles related to adult life was done with parents and caregivers, rather than directly with adults with disabilities.


Conclusion and Future Study

Throughout their lifetime an individual is faced with many transitions and experiences that may incite feelings of fear and anxiety.  An individual with a disability may have to face functional challenges that accentuate these fears, and ultimately their families have their own fears and concerns regarding their well-being (Barkley & Fisher, 2011; Stamp, Banerjee, & Brown, 2014). Throughout their lifetime these individuals may experience stigmatization in school, social rejection, exclusion from general education classrooms or extracurricular events, and difficulty transitioning into community living (Cocks, Thoresen, Williamson, & Boaden, 2014; DePoy & Werrbach, 1996; Kliewer, Biklen, & Petersen, 2015; Tajfel & Turner, 1979; Young, Falco, & Hanita, 2015).

An emphasis should be placed on inclusion and teaching self-advocacy in schools in order to alleviate the fears and anxieties throughout the lifetime for individuals with disabilities and their families. Furthermore, an importance should be placed on working with faculty to enhance understanding in general, and more specifically the need for accommodations within higher education. Finally, when looking at living situations, the needs of the person with a disability should be emphasized as they transition into living situations within the community.

In order to continue to support the disability community in achieving these goals, future studies should focus on fears held by parents and faculty regarding placement in inclusive classrooms. Future research should look at coping strategies used by student with disabilities, as well as ways they overcome fear. Studies measuring the needs and desires of adults with disabilities in regards to community integration should be expanded, as well as studies focusing on bullying related experiences of students from elementary school through college. Finally, research has suggested that teaching students self-advocacy skills can help alleviate fears and anxieties; however, little research was found evaluating particular methods for teaching these skills. Future studies that address these topics will further alleviate fears, anxieties, and challenges that people with disabilities face throughout their lifetimes. Findings for this analysis offered insight into the fears and anxieties felt during various transition in life for individuals with disabilities, but future research may alleviate the additional questions and give greater insight into best practices to assist individuals with disabilities and the community surrounding them.



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Provenance: Double-blind peer-reviewed submission.


Elise Anguizola Assaf, M.A.

Elise is a Ph.D. student at Chapman University with interests in disability studies and media. She has worked in the communications field and has won awards as a PR account executive and marketing representative in the healthcare industry. She is also an adjunct faculty member at California State University, Fullerton in the Communications Department. Elise earned her BA in Communications, emphasis in Public Relations, and MA in Communications at CSUF in 2012 and 2015, respectively.



Shayne Brophy, M.A., Ed. S

Shayne is a Ph.D. student and graduate researcher at Chapman University. While earning her BA in Psychology at UCSB, she began doing in home therapy through the Koegel Autism Center. Transitioning into the school system, Shayne worked as a behavior tutor, while simultaneously earning her teaching credentials and master’s from Chapman University. Currently she works as a special education teacher in an inclusive high school.



Jennifer James, M.A.

Jennifer is currently pursuing a PhD in Education with an emphasis in Disability Studies at Chapman University. Jennifer’s research interests are inclusion in higher education and faculty perceptions of students with disabilities. While enrolled in the PhD program, Jennifer teaches all levels of college composition at Orange Coast College and Chaffey College. She holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in English from California State University, Fullerton.



Sneha Kohli Mathur, M.A., BCBA

Sneha Kohli Mathur is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spectrum Success, LLC, which strives to provide adolescents and adults on the Autism Spectrum a chance to secure employment that they are passionate about.  Sneha is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), she received her Masters degree in Psychology from NYU, her Bachelors degree in Psychology from the UCSD, and is currently a student in Chapman University’s Ph.D. program of Education and Disability Studies.


Lesieli Latu teaches students with a disability at Ngele’ia Primary School in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. The class is part of a pilot program for The Inclusive Education (TIE)” by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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