Category Archives: Self-Determination

Overcoming Obstacles: “Prove them wrong”

This video (published August, 2013) was posted at the You Tube site of  TEDEd.  Great message for everyone about self-determination.  Wonderful use of animation to illustrate his story.

When faced with a bump in the road, sometimes we forget we have a choice: overcome the obstacle or let it overcome you. Steven Claunch, who was born without fingers on his right hand and with one leg shorter than the other and has excelled in basketball nonetheless, explains why obstacles can provide an opportunity to both inspire others and develop character.

Fall River Center Empowers Disabled

This center in Massachusetts provides opportunities for people of all ages with disabilities, including youth programs to help them develope needed skills for adulthood. (Article posted in the SouthCoastTODAY, January 2, 2014)

For more than 25 years, the Southeast Center for Independent Living has been a beacon of hope for disabled people in Greater Fall River, helping them sharpen the skills they need to lead happy, productive lives.

According to Lisa M. Pitta, executive director of the Fall River-based nonprofit agency, the philosophy of independent living maintains that individuals have the right to choose services and make personal decisions. In collaboration with other organizations and agencies, SCIL provides a variety of services to empower people with disabilities to maintain independence and overcome obstacles.

….Last summer, 36 high school students and young adults with various disabilities participated in TAP (Transition to Adulthood Program), acquiring employment skills and learning fiscal responsibility before entering the workforce.

Program Coordinator Lucy Loureiro says that eight of the young men and women were asked to continue their employment once the summer program ended. The participants worked in law offices, daycare centers, supermarkets, auto body shops, Charlton Memorial Hospital and other sites. Salaries were grant-funded at no expense to the employer.

Read the article in its entirety here.

Visit the Southeast Center for Independent Living website 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.

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.

The Impact of College on Self-Determination

June, 2013

The Impact of College on Self-Determination is the sixth issue of the Research to Practice in Self-Determination Series. This edition of Research to Practice in Self Determination is a joint product of the Think College Consortium for Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the National Gateway to Self Determination. The issue explores the interdependency between self-determination and postsecondary education and reflects the many impacts each may have on a students’ path in life.

Continue reading the document here.

Challenging Transition to Adulthood for Marylanders With Disabilities

Capital News Service, December 4, 2013

FREDERICK – Like any mother of an active 20-year-old, Frederick County resident Michele Baisey has her hands full. But in addition to helping her son, Troy, balance school, work and home life, she faces a looming deadline that is unsettling for many parents in her position.

Troy Baisey, who was born prematurely, suffers from cerebral palsy and hearing loss. He is considered a “transitioning youth,” which means he will soon lose the guarantee of state assistance.

In Maryland, young adults with disabilities are entitled to public education until age 21. After that, families must apply for support through various programs and organizations. Services and financial assistance are contingent on eligibility requirements and the availability of funds.

It can be a frightening and overwhelming time for students with disabilities and their families, who are used to the structure and support of the public school system, said Mary Scott, a transition resource teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools.

“There’s no entitlement after you leave school,” Scott said. “It’s hard for parents to wrap their minds around that.”

Michele Baisey recalled the stress and pressure to complete multiple aid applications in a short amount of time starting when her son was a junior in high school.

“It was very overwhelming because it was so much all at once, and the applications are not short or by any means easy,” she said. “It’s looking back from birth and documenting and justifying everything medically … down to every doctor, every hospital, every medicine.”

As his mother navigates the state system, Troy Baisey is figuring out what he wants his future to look like. He had to modify his goals several times, like when he found out he would not be able to graduate high school with a diploma, or when he was told he may not be able to pursue his dream job of becoming a priest.

Teens with cerebral palsy face uncertain transition into adulthood

B.C.’s pediatric system assigns teams to deal with the health, financial and other needs of children with cerebral palsy. At age 18, they are cut adrift to muddle through an unfriendly adult system that spreads programs across several ministries

A look at British Columbia’s transition services for youth with cerebral palsy  in the Vancouver Sun , October 4, 2013:

At age 18, Lauren Stinson faced the typical issues of people her age — social life, educational choices, finding a career. But Stinson, who has cerebral palsy, also faced another challenge — adapting to life without a medical support team.

As a child, Stinson had a host of medical and social services professionals working to manage her health. But B.C.’s pediatric medical system cuts people loose at age 18 and there is no adult equivalent in B.C. to that team-based pediatric system.

Stinson, now 24, was born two months prematurely after being deprived of oxygen in the womb. She was diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy at birth, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects her entire body.

….the province developed a strong system of medical care based in the pediatric system and facilities at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Pediatric support teams may include physicians, nutritionists, orthopedic surgeons, and occupational and physiotherapists.

But the health care system has not kept up with these children as they become young adults, with adult interests in such things as jobs and relationships. At age 18, they must transition to the adult health care system and find, on their own, a new team of support workers and doctors — or not. Provincial government funding for children with disabilities, the At Home Program, is simultaneously cut off.

The transition does not always go smoothly, Lauren said.

Continue reading here.

Special Education Services After High School Uncoordinated, Unmonitored, GAO Finds

Huffing post article from 2012

This is an interesting article on the coordinated services in transition planning.  Beyond the article, read the comments.  There are varying positions on points made in the article.

Thirty-six hours after Marlyn Wells gave birth to Anna, she learned her daughter had Down syndrome. Just a few years later, the family started talking about Anna’s career. In pre-school, Anna had said she wanted to be a “fire truck” when she grew up.

But 20 years later, the family hit roadblocks trying to help find paid work for Anna. One program responsible for helping Anna find a job only kicks in six months before students like her graduate from high school. A different vocational agency was required to contact her once a month, “which is not adequate,” Wells said. “We were not told how the funding part of that particular service works, so it left us out of being able to make an informed choice as to which service provider might be the most appropriate one for Anna’s needs.”

According to a new Government Accountability Office report released late Tuesday, Anna’s struggles are far from the exception. Students with disabilities, like Anna, face massive challenges using federal services that are supposed to help them transition from high school and into college or the workforce, the report found. Parents in five states told GAO researchers about struggles faced by their families trying to find services that help their children move on with their lives after school.

Continue reading here.

Youth with Disabilities Speak to Disclosure

This is a great video about disability disclosure for youth with disabilities as they transition to their postsecondary endeavors.  While this video is a little over a year old, it is still very applicable to youth pursuing their dreams today.

Youth with disabilities discuss how the decisions to disclose their disabilities have affected them at school, at work, and in social situations. Download 411 Disability Disclosure – Workbook for Youth with Disabilities here.