Category Archives: Family Involvement

“Linking Learning to Life”: Strengthening Transition Skills

A Pennsylvania School District has implemented a program that helps students develop employment and independent living skills.  Partnered with local businesses, the district High School has created an on site classroom that provides simulated experiences and career coaching.

Learning to Life (LLtL) is a two-tier secondary transition designed to aid students in making the progression from the classroom to post-school life. Activities are based on the individual’s needs, ranging from those with mild disabilities to students with more significant needs who require extensive support, and consider his or her strengths, preferences and interests.

“The majority of our services were previously contracted with outside providers,” said DiMarino-Linnen. “They tended to be ‘one size fits all’ and students were oriented to a community that was not their own.”

To address the concerns, LLtL considers the various paths students will take in the months and years after high school. For some, the focus is on independent living; for others, post-secondary competitive employment, trade school or college. Planning begins no later than the first IEP when the student turns 14, with a team which can involve the individual, parents, general and special education personnel and an agency representative. Issues such as course selection and the extended school year (ESY) program are addressed.

Read the article here.

Project SEARCH Model Continues to Provide Opportunities

The Project SEARCH model, originally launched in Ohio, continues to grow and provide high school to employment opportunities for students with disabilities.

Jesse Potter worked diligently on a recent morning to disinfect and clean a baby bed inside the University of New Mexico Hospital’s newborn intensive care unit.

Potter, 20, who has Down syndrome, is an intern at the hospital under a new program called Project Search.

Through the job training program – a first-year collaboration between the school district, UNMH and several other partners – students with developmental disabilities work as unpaid interns at the hospital and, if they successfully complete their training, the hospital hires them as full-time employees.

“You can see the pride” in Jesse, said his mother, Julie Potter.

The internship gives her son a sense of purpose and he thinks of it as his college experience, she said.

When Jesse graduated high school in 2013, he joined APS’s transition services, a program that helps students with disabilities transition to life after high school.

It was a scary time, not unlike when Julie Potter first learned Jesse had Down syndrome, she said. She questioned whether Jesse would be able to find a job, much less one that he liked and that filled him with a sense of accomplishment. After learning about Project Search, she rushed to sign up her son.

Read the article here.

More information on Project SEARCH

“Next Steps”: Support for Families of Students with Disabilities

A Chicago district has developed a “Next Steps” team to aid families of students with disabilities in helping to prepare their student for adulthood.

“Next Steps” is a District 202 Vocational Education Team that assists parents and caregivers with planning, transitioning and advocating for their children with disabilities.

The Next Steps team aims to improve delivery of services to families of students with disabilities; increase family awareness of disability options and resources; and link families in need to agencies that can support them with issues related to transition.

Read more here.

“The Best Me I Can Be” – Student Led IEPs

Transition for youth with disabilities really begins when a student is identified as having a disability.  DC Education has developed a series of modules that addresses students being involved in their IEPs, from a very early age.

This module is about student-led IEPs and shows real examples of students leading their own IEPs.  Helping students develop these skills early in their education will provide a solid foundation for future transition planning.

Canadian Man with Autism Finds His Employment Niche

Finding a person’s interests and preferences is crucial to providing appropriate transition services.  The young man in this article has been able to find his niche using his strengths and interests.  The author alludes to the inefficiency of  Canadian schools in serving youth with disabilities as they transition into adulthood and this man’s parents forged ahead until they helped their son find a suitable program and business for him.

The next time you are cursing the assembly instructions for an IKEA desk or bookshelf, you will wish you were living in Edmonton.

Residents in the Alberta capital can hire Brad Fremmerlid, a 24-year-old man with severe autism who can build anything.

Although he doesn’t read or speak, Fremmerlid has an amazing ability to understand the most complex diagrams, blueprints and pictorial instructions.

And for a small fee — currently about $20 — he will build any piece of furniture in your home.

“Everyone tells us we should be charging more, but we’re not really looking for money,” said his father, Mark Fremmerlid, an air ambulance pilot, who launched the business for his son this month. “We just want him to have something meaningful to do.

“It’s just started, but it seems to be so good for him to go to someone’s place and have a problem to solve,” he said in a telephone interview this week.

So far, the business — Made by Brad — has had eight clients, who have asked the young man to assemble everything from a shower caddy to a filing cabinet.

Mark books appointments through the company’s website. Brad communicates through rudimentary hand signs. But a support worker, who drives him to the jobs, assists with any questions a client may have.

Read the article here.

Nemours Develops Transition Video Series for Youth with Special Health Care Needs

A new video series for youth with special health care needs has been launched by Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.  The series focuses on transition to adulthood for youth who face taking charge of their own medical care along with seeking employment and living independently.

 The transition from adolescence to independent young adulthood can be an especially challenging time for those with special health care needs. A great deal of planning and forethought is needed to help these patients move from pediatric to adult health care providers, from education to employment and from their family home to independent living when possible.

To help patients, families and caregivers understand the many important issues they face prior to and during this period of transition, Nemours has developed a series of videos now available on YouTube. The videos, made possible by a grant from NYMAC, cover four main areas:

Legal

Residential

Vocational

Medical Self-Management

Read the article here (published on PR Web, January 21, 2014)

 

Individual Learning Plans: “Taking the nation by storm.”

This post (December 31, 2013), featured on the website of The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD), outlines the features of the Individual Learning Plan, or “ILP”, which is a tool that is spreading like fire across the country in school districts across the country.

There is a movement afoot – a change in focus, a change in the way many school districts around the country are attempting to prepare all youth for adulthood. Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) are taking the nation by storm. If you haven’t heard about ILPs yet, you will no doubt hear more about them in the future. To help you get acquainted with this important new trend, here are a few basics about what ILPs are and how they work.

As of this writing, 36 states and the District of Columbia either require or use some form of an Individualized Learning Plan for students, although some states use different names for the ILP. For example, Connecticut has a “Student Success Plan,” Oregon has an “Education Plan and Profile,” and Missouri uses a “Personal Plan of Study.” Some states begin student planning as early as 6th grade, with most starting the process around 8th grade.

(NOTE:  The chart referenced above may be out of date for some states.  For example, Utah has changed it’s “SEOP”  [Student Education and Occupation Plan]to “CCRP” [College and Career Readiness Plan”]). Check your state for the most recent developments.)

The post describes the appropriateness of the ILP with IEPs and how families can become more involved.

ILPs are designed to help link a student’s career or education goals to education and enrichment opportunities in high school. They can provide a level of planning, assessment, and coordination that is beyond the intent of an Individualized Education Program (IEP)….

Many families have not yet been informed about what an ILP is, if their youth’s school district is using ILPs, and what they can do as parents to assist in the process. Families are encouraged to ask the school guidance counselor or principal if ILPs are used in their district and what the process is called. It is helpful to find out how the plan is structured, where it is housed (as a paper document or online), and when during the day the student is working on it. Ask your youth about his or her ILP and discuss how the goals stated in the ILP were identified. You may be surprised to find that the ILP allows the youth to better understand the link between what they are doing in school now and how that is preparing them for life as an adult later. Working on the ILP together also creates an opportunity for the youth and the family member(s) to have conversations about the youth’s growth into adulthood.

Read the blog post in its entirety here.

Read the policy brief on ILPs here.

 

Climbing the Cinder Cone: Transition services through special education

Climbing the Cinder Cone is focused on sharing information and resources for parents of teens and young adults with mental health issues.  This blog post highlights experiences of this parent regarding transition services for her son, with links to other resources (especially in California) and advice for parents of students with disabilities.

A particular show tune plays in my head when I think about the topic of this blog post. Can you guess which one? Hint: I’m a sucker for puns.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

And you know, the words not only sound alike, they both relate to the idea of change. In “Fiddler on the Roof”, Tevye wants to hold on to the way things are and always have been – to honor tradition.  But he has to come to terms with the fact that life involves change, welcome or not.

“On the other hand” (as Tevye would say), transition services available through special education help atypical teens prepare for the changes they’ll face as they enter their 20′s. Like Tevye, the teens may not be welcoming the changes either, but transition services can lead the way to a more functional adulthood.

If you are hesitating about moving your pre-teen or teen into special education, one factor to consider is that transition services are a mandatory part of the special education package once the student is 16 years old, and can even be included in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) sooner than that. Transition services for students with disabilities are provided according to the needs of the individual. This can be a huge help, especially if you’re not already familiar with all the appropriate resources out there and how to access them. Also, the special-needs students can access the career center and guidance counselor services that are available to all high school students.

Continue reading here.

Student’s acceptance to Clemson goes viral

KCTV5 News, December 20, 2013

CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) –

A video of a Dorman High School student with Down syndrome getting his acceptance letter into Clemson is going viral.

The parents of 20-year-old Rion Holcombe turned on their camera when they got the letter in the mail and uploaded his stunned reaction to YouTube.

“My heart started to jump out of my chest so this is what happened when I got this envelope,” Rion said in an interview on Thursday.

Continue reading here.

Confessions of an Asperger’s Mom: Transition to Adulthood

Blog Post on a mother’s experience with a Transition meeting in her home with the IEP team, December 17, 2013.

Last night we had a Person Centered Planning meeting here at our house for Red.  The purpose of the meeting is to do personal goal setting alongside the mentors in Red’s life.  He decides who to invite to these meetings.  He actually schedules it with his facilitator and sends out the electronic invitations to everyone.  He also follows up with them days prior to the meeting to confirm if they will attend.

We have also made him responsible for shopping for and preparing a snack for his guests.  The snack last night was fresh grapes, oranges, apples and brownie bites.

Our crowd last night consisted of myself, Red, his Vocational Training teacher from the high school, his Pastor, and our facilitator, who just happens to be the head Transition Coordinator for our school district, and the Vice Principle of the 18 plus Transition Program, which he will be entering into as of January.

Yes.  Red will complete his high school credits at the end of this week! As of now, he will walk the stage with his peers in the graduation in June of 2014.  We will decide between now and then whether or not to give him his diploma at that time, and then transition him to the Department of Rehabilitative Services.  DARS will assist him and hopefully help pay for, career training/college or a certification program.  Otherwise, he can continue to receive adult transition services through the school district up until the age of 22.

Continue reading here.