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The Relationship of Person‐Environment Fit to Perceptions of Autonomy, Competency and Satisfaction Among Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities


Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities

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The overlay of age‐related cognitive and physical impairments onto existing intellectual and physical disabilities, a paucity of informal social relationships, a limited education and low income levels place the current generation of aging adults with intellectual disabilities at risk of premature behavioral limitations and increased dependency. Person‐environment fit and its relationship to perceptions of autonomy, competency, and satisfaction were explored through qualitative data collected from consumers. Face‐to‐face, in home interviews were conducted with 91 consumers who were asked to assess their own ability to carry out self‐care and household tasks. Interviewers then observed consumers performing these tasks. A multi‐stage data analysis process identified emergent themes that included issues related to autonomy versus dependence, belonging versus isolation, residential permanency versus transience, and social inclusion versus exclusion. The study also collected quantitative data, both from consumers and interviewers acting as observers. Consumer ratings of their own ability were consistently lower than observer ratings. Fostering home‐based independence and autonomy among people aging with developmental disabilities are discussed in relation to perspectives on the home environment.