Category Archives: Self-Determination

“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.

Postsecondary Education Linked to Higher Employment Rates

An increasing number of postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities are being created and implemented across the United States……with evidence of successful outcomes, according to a recent study.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities who attend postsecondary programs are finding greater success in the job market than those who do not pursue further education, a new study suggests.

Graduates of postsecondary programs reported higher rates of employment since completing high school, according to findings published online this month in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. The research offers support for a growing number of programs at colleges and universities specifically geared toward young adults with developmental disabilities.

Read the article here.

 

“STEP” Provides College Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Another college, in Massachussetts, on board with providing transition opportunities for students with disabilities!

The Norton program, known as STEP, serves students with intellectual disabilities who are involved with three programs at Bridgewater [State University], STEP program teacher Ashley Rodrigues said.

While all of the programs are geared toward students with intellectual disabilities, the Transitions at Bridgewater and Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment programs are both designed for high school students between the ages of 18 and 22 who have been unable to pass the MCAS tests, Rodrigues said.

Transitions at Bridgewater offers students weekly workshops covering topics such as money management, social skills, campus and social media safety and interview skills.

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program gives students an opportunity to audit a course and experience college life, including spending time with college students.

Read the article here.

 

EnvisionIT – A Transition Curriculum for Students with Disabilities

This curriculum comes from the Nisonger Centers Transitions Team at Ohio State University.

While many students with disabilities enter college, keeping them there is another story….

There are many success stories about students with disabilities attending college. But there is still much work to do.  This article addresses barriers to staying in college for students with disabilities.

Why Are Huge Numbers of Disabled Students Dropping Out of College?

    ….an estimated 60% of disabled young adults make it to college after high school, yet nearly two thirds are unable to complete their degrees within six years. Is this the fault of their disabilities, or is something more complex at play? The testimony of disabled students suggests that the problem lies not with their disabilities, per se, but with the numerous barriers they encounter in higher education, from failing to provide blind students with readers, to the refusal to accommodate wheelchair users in otherwise accessible classrooms.

….What can be done to improve conditions for disabled students in the United States? How do we create a more welcoming, sustainable educational environment for them? Two things are key: promoting a proud self-advocacy culture, and reforming institutional attitudes about disability.

Read the article here.

 

Florida After School High Tech Program Helps with Transition, Graduation Rates

Posted in The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida, (February 25, 2014)

The newest of 40 high school sites around the state of Florida has implemented the High School High Tech Program, an after school program designed to support students with disabilities work towards life after high school, focusing on science and mathematics.

High School High Tech helps students with disabilities explore career paths that fit their skills and interests, pursue post-secondary education and secure employment, with a focus on STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — fields.

The after-school program is managed by the Able Trust, a state nonprofit dedicated to providing people with disabilities the opportunity for employment, and by the Center for Independent Living.

“The goal is to have every student live independently and have awesome opportunities in life, especially in the high-tech world, where we need all the people we can get,” said Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Read the article here.

TEDx Talk: “ADHD As A Difference In Cognition, Not A Disorder”

This 2013 TEDx Talk at Carnegie Melon University by a student with ADHD provides inspiration for anyone with and without ADHD to pursue their dreams and desires.

Stephen is a Senior Directing major at Carnegie Mellon. He is also the current President of Carnegie Mellon’s Film Club. He recently completed his Thesis Project within the School of Drama: a production of Mac Wellman’s “A Murder of Crows.” He is currently working on creating a collective of Film Enthusiasts across Carnegie’s Campus as well as other colleges and universities around Pittsburgh. You can find out more about Stephen and his talk on his website: http://www.stephentonti.com or follow his blog “Caffeine, Nicotine, and ADHD: a guide to maintaining sanity.”

Proponents of ABLE Act Speak out

Advocates of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013 (ABLE Act) are speaking out in an effort to get it signed into law:

“My name is Sara Wolff. I am a 31 year-old from Moscow, Pennsylvania, who happens to have Down syndrome but that doesn’t stop me from achieving “my” better life. I work as a law clerk and also at Keystone Community Resources in the Office of Advocacy. I am a board member of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS). I’m calling on Congress to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647), a bill that will help individuals with disabilities to save for their futures.

I’m 31 years old, and I happen to have Down syndrome. I have two jobs, and lead an independent life, however, when my mom died suddenly last year, things got a lot harder for me and my family. I want to support myself and save money for my future, but if I save more than $2,000, I’ll lose the benefits I depend on like Medicaid and Social Security.

That’s because of a law that says that people with disabilities like me can’t have more than $2,000 in assets or we risk losing the benefits we need to live. For me, living on my own, that means I can’t even save enough to put down rent and a security deposit on an apartment. This law keeps me dependent on other people, and that’s really scary now that my mom is gone.

But, there is a solution: the ABLE Act.

When the ABLE Act passes into law this year, it will change my life forever. I lost my mother this past year, Connie, to a sudden, rapid illness. With my whole life ahead of me, I need an ABLE account to plan for my future. And, I am not alone, like most individuals with disabilities, people with Down syndrome and other conditions are out living their parents.

Read the rest of the post and view the petition here .

This video from Our Special Voice explains the ABLE Act in a little more detail:

Minnesota Focuses on Employment for Teens

The news clip below announces a workshop in St. Paul from February 5, however much of the information continues to remain current news:  Employment for teens is lacking and those teens with disabilities have an even lower rate of finding employment:

We know it’s not an easy time to find a job, and for young people hoping to join the workforce it’s even more difficult. On Wednesday, groups around the Twin Cities Metro are working to change that.
We know it’s not an easy time to find a job, and for young people hoping to join the workforce it’s even more difficult. On Wednesday, groups around the Twin Cities Metro are working to change that.
We know it’s not an easy time to find a job, and for young people hoping to join the workforce it’s even more difficult. On Wednesday, groups around the Twin Cities Metro are working to change that. Workshop Aims to Help Youth with Disabilities Find Work.

Link to the announcement about summer employment:  St. Paul Initiative Encourages Businesses to Hire Youth During Summer

Link to Young Invincibles employment for teens information.

 

“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.