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Transition Universe provides resources and support to students, families and educators interested and involved in the Transition of Youth with Disabilities. Information has been gathered from many sources and also includes original content.
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Category Archives: Student Development
A new program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities at Utah State University, Aggies Elevated, has accepted its first cohort for the Fall of 2014.
Students in a Newark, Ohio High School are all smiles when it comes to making pizza. Smiling With Hope Bakery is operated by students with disabilities in a non-traditional way.
When it comes to pizzerias, the Smiling with Hope Bakery is not what you might call traditional.
Smiling with Hope is in a school, which means locked doors and specific hours.
There’s no direct phone line, no advertising, and customers have to order in advance.
There’s only one size option for pizzas, 18 inches, and two topping choices: cheese or pepperoni.
Still, the pizza is good, and people are starting to notice. This winter, Smiling with Hope Bakery — run by special-needs students at Newark High School — will be featured on Serious Eats, a cluster of websites dedicated to celebrating food.
Walter Gloshinski, Special Education Teacher, musician, and founder of Smiling With Hope, created this video as a thank you to the community for supporting the program:
….[Walter] Gloshinski has a caseload of six students at Newark High School, and they spend most of the day working in the bakery. There are another 10 that stop by just for a class period — Gloshinski’s students go elsewhere during that time for academic training — but to Gloshinski, the important factor is his students are learning while they bake. They’re not just rolling dough and shuttling pans in and out of ovens; they’re learning how to measure, shop, take inventory, follow directions for deliveries and work on a team, even with people they may not like.
Those are all necessary skills for the real world, Gloshinski said, and they are skills that will help his students land jobs later in life.
This article, posted in The Hechinger Report, February 3, 2014, chronicles the struggles of a young woman with a disability in pursuing her post-secondary education because she did not have a standard diploma.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Four weeks into a medical assistant program at Antonelli College, Nikki Mclendon eagerly took her parents to the college’s student appreciation day. The 20-year-old looked forward to discussing her progress and pre-registering for the next term, but instead received devastating news.
School officials told the Mclendons their daughter was ineligible to continue. Without warning, the career technical college that accepted Mclendon a year after she finished high school said the “occupational diploma” she’d received from Forrest County Agricultural High School disqualified her.
“I thought, ‘What? I just went through my first semester of college…. I’m having a blast at it, and you all are ruining my career,’” Mclendon recalled.
Mclendon had no way of knowing the alternate diploma many Mississippi special education students choose if they cannot meet the academic requirements of a regular diploma would be a roadblock to higher education and a career — one the state can ill afford. In Mississippi, some 20 percent of youth ages 16-24 are not in school or the workplace, the highest rate in the U.S., according to U.S. census data.
When Mclendon was admitted to Antonelli, the school had not yet received her transcript, said Steve Bryant, president of Antonelli’s Hattiesburg campus. Mclendon was allowed to start classes and start paying tuition for the $30,000 program, which was refunded when she left. Then the transcript showed that she had not passed all her exit exams, and did not have a regular diploma.
“If we can’t verify when the transcripts arrive that they did in fact receive a normal, regular high school diploma, then the student’s conditional acceptance is revoked,” Bryant said.
What happened to Nikki Mclendon is emblematic of a larger problem in Mississippi, where students are much less likely to graduate with a regular diploma after they are classified with a disability. A review of data by the Clarion-Ledger, of Jackson, Miss., found that the majority of special education students receive an occupational diploma, meant to prepare students for a job, or a certificate of completion, meant to honor special education students’ efforts in high school — even if they fell short of graduation requirements.
As a result, thousands of capable students leave high school with few career and education options in a state with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has transformed their transition programs for students with moderate to severe disabilities to provide training for competitve employment (Press-Telegram, January 18, 2014)
Claudia is an obese teenager with developmental disabilities who long had a habit of acting out at her school by dropping to the floor and refusing to move for hours on end.
But since early December, when her school started a nail salon where the students perform manicures for each other as well as paying customers, she hasn’t pulled the stunt once.
“It so profoundly impacts the way she sees herself,” said the school’s principal, Christopher Eaton. “Her entire decorum has changed — she’s cheerier, she’s more positive. It’s just amazing.”
Claudia is a student at the Banneker Special Education Center, which, along with its sister school, the Doyle Career and Transition Center in Gardena, is part of a transformation sweeping through the special-needs strain of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The district is moving toward a model in which all of its 8,000 students with moderate-to-severe disabilities receive some sort of vocational training.
Eaton is the new principal charged with overseeing both Banneker and Doyle, which are located three miles apart, and newly united as a part of the policy shift. (As of next fall, the school will be called Banneker/Doyle Career and Transition Center.)
Since its inception five years ago, Doyle has been a place where adult students ages 18-22 with moderate to severe disabilities such as autism and mental retardation come to pick up skills that give them not only a fighting chance to land a job in a competitive world, but also the life skills to make them happier, better-rounded adults.
The Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence, and Navigation Act of 2013, or the Age In Act , is a bill that was introduced in June, 2013 by Sen. Robert “Bob” Menéndez [D-NJ]. It is currently in the “referred to committee” status. The bill’s aim is:
To amend the Public Health Services Act to provide research, training, and navigator services to youth and young adults on the verge of aging out of the secondary educational system, and for other purposes.
A July, 2013 post on Sen. Menedez’s website further explains the bill, which is specifically aimed at providing more services to young adults with autism who age out of the public school system:
In an effort to expand the nation’s understanding of – and services for – young adults and their families living with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), U.S. Senator Robert Menendez today unveiled legislation that would provide federal funding to research and evaluate services currently available for young people “aging out” of existing education and support systems, develop a national strategic action plan, and provide training grants to put the plan into action in helping transitioning youth to lead productive, independent lives.
The Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation (AGE-IN) Act of 2013 will address the needs of aging-out youth with ASD in two phases: The first phase is designed to identify the most effective interventions and existing support service infrastructure in order to develop a comprehensive training plan; The second phase puts this plan to action by providing grants to existing entities – such as University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service – to train a new generation of Transition Navigators. Transition Navigators will be trained to provide interdisciplinary and comprehensive services to address the needs of transitioning youths including providing services aimed at accessing continuing education (including vocational training) and competitive employment, but also in obtaining life’s other necessities such as health care, housing, transportation and community integration….
Menendez’s bill is designed to conduct research, develop techniques and implement training for support services that will help ensure young adults with ASD have the opportunities to make the transition to adulthood a success.
Sen. Menedez’s speech at the unveiling of the AGE-IN Act:
The United Way of Allegheny County’s “21 and Able” Program is Entering its Third Year Helping Bridge Gap from Youth to Adulthood for Those with Disabilities.
In the first two years of 21 and Able, the effort has worked on public policy and has continued to work with local, state and national partners on potential changes. In 2013, a new pilot program was launched that seeks to help people with disabilities better fit into companies. Giant Eagle, The United Way, Allegheny County and Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services have partnered on the Career Transition Liaison Project.
“The career transition liaison is embedded into the company,” said Mary Esther Van Shura with Allegheny County. “The reason for doing that is frequently when individuals are in corporations or in any business it’s not just knowing the technical aspects of the job, but also the culture.”
The career liaison will reach out to various school districts and will work with employed individuals to ensure their success in the company. Since the project’s start in August five young people with disabilities have been hired by Giant Eagle in positions such as meat wrapper, front end clerk, bakery clerk and produce clerk. Giant Eagle is in the process of screening 14 additional students from 11 area schools. The idea came about from the embedded journalist model.
The Project SEARCH High School Transition program is a one year business-led, collaborative program for students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities, ages 18-22. The program provides intensive training for students in a hands-on environment to gain skills for competitive employment.
There are Project SEARCH programs around the United States. The FAQ page contains information on how to start a program in a community.