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Ernst VanBergeijk's picture

How can young adults on the autism spectrum find employment?

Ernst O. VanBergeijk, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Associate Dean & Executive Director
Jonah Berger's picture

How can parents help youth with special needs to become adults?

Jonah Berger
Owner & Director of Operations
Kelly Imperial's picture

Explore postsecondary options for students with learning differences

Kelly Imperial
Associate Director of Admissions and Development
Ve Duong's picture

Person-directed planning can empower individuals with autism

Ve Duong
Community Options Facilitator/Planning Facilitator
Kimberly Isaac's picture

Help teens on the autism spectrum to navigate social relations

Kimberly Isaac M.S.
Autism Specialist / Certified RDI™ Program Consultant
Leslie Walker-Hirsch's picture

Sexuality education is vital for teens with intellectual disabilities

Leslie Walker-Hirsch, IMEd, FAAIDD
Social Development and Sexuality Practitioner
Cynthia May's picture

Making college a reality for youth with intellectual disabilities

Cynthia May, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Ernst VanBergeijk's picture

Preparing teens with special needs and learning issues for college

Ernst O. VanBergeijk, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Associate Dean & Executive Director
Michelle Winner's picture

Teach kids with social learning challenges to become independent

Michelle Garcia Winner
Founder of Social Thinking® and a Speech Language Pathologist
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Caring for Teens and Adults with Disabilities

For young adults with special needs, the transition from high school to adulthood brings a unique set of challenges and opportunities. With independence as the ultimate goal, parents must begin planning early to increase their teen’s ability to achieve the greatest autonomy.As parents create a transition plan, there are many factors to consider, including post-secondary education; vocational training and employment; life skills coaching and mentoring; adult day programs; legal and financial planning; independent living services; community inclusion; recreational activities; eligibility for state and federal government benefit programs; and guardianship.While the transition planning process can feel quite complex and overwhelming, the good news is that you are not alone. Our numerous experts provide valuable information to help answer your questions and advocate for your teen. We assist you in preparing for the future and supporting your young adult as he or she gains confidence and works toward independence.

How can young adults on the autism spectrum find employment?

The unemployment numbers for individuals on the autism spectrum are frightening. At best, some reports indicate that the unemployment rate for this population is 45 percent. Without any intervention, anecdotal reports reveal an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent.

Ernst O. VanBergeijk, Ph.D., M.S.W.Associate Dean & Executive Director

Ernst VanBergeijk is the Associate Dean and Executive Director, at New York Institute of Technology Vocational Independence Program (VIP). The Vocational Independence Program is a U.S. Department of Education approved Comprehensive Transition an...

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Explore postsecondary options for students with learning differences

Kelly Imperial Associate Director of Admissions and Development New York Institute of Technology Vocational Independence Program (VIP)

Many parents become anxious when students begin considering next steps after high school. For parents of students with learning differences, these feelings can be magnified as they must consider additional factors. While there are a number of postsecondary programs geared towards this population, trying to decide on the right one can be extremely difficult. The following advice is helpful in determining how to research various programs to help students make the next step.

Kelly ImperialAssociate Director of Admissions and Development

Kelly Imperial, M.S. is the Associate Director of Admissions & Development for the NYIT Vocational Independence Program. The NYIT Vocational Independence Program is a U.S. Department of Education approved Comprehensive Transition and Postsecond...

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How can individuals with disabilities seek and pursue employment?

Employment within the regular workforce has been made possible for individuals with disabilities through the use of techniques referred to as customized and supported employment. All individuals who want to work can do so through the utilization of these techniques.

Bob LawheadCEO

For the past twenty-five years Bob Lawhead has served as CEO of Community Link, a non-profit agency supporting community integrated employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Bob received his MA Ed. / Educational ...

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Sexuality education is vital for teens with intellectual disabilities

It is common for parents to request help with sexuality education for their pre-teen and teenage children. However, parents are truly at a loss when their child has an intellectual, cognitive or developmental disability. Anxiety about how much is enough and how much is too much can plague parents and teachers alike. Sexuality education often stays on the back burner--until puberty sets in or a problem arises. Then it can no longer be ignored.

Leslie Walker-Hirsch, IMEd, FAAIDDSocial Development and Sexuality Practitioner

Leslie Walker-Hirsch is the author of the award winning book, The Facts of Life...and More (Brookes, 2007) and the co-creator of the CIRCLES® Curriculum Series (Stanfield, 2007). She is an internationally recognized educational consultant wh...

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Preparing teens with special needs and learning issues for college

High-functioning individuals on the autism spectrum, who attend college, do not struggle with the academic demands of post-secondary education, particularly if the subject matter is in an area of interest. Rather, their main source of difficulty lies within navigating the independent living and social aspects of going away to college. Parents often ask, “When should I begin transition planning for my son or daughter?” The answer is that parents need to start transition planning for higher functioning students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at age six.

Ernst O. VanBergeijk, Ph.D., M.S.W.Associate Dean & Executive Director

Ernst VanBergeijk is the Associate Dean and Executive Director, at New York Institute of Technology Vocational Independence Program (VIP). The Vocational Independence Program is a U.S. Department of Education approved Comprehensive Transition an...

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Helping teens with autism spectrum disorder prepare for college

College does not have to be out of reach for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Thanks to early intervention services, more and more children diagnosed with ASD are growing into motivated young adults, preparing to attend college and becoming independent in every aspect of their lives.

Dana Reinecke, PhD, BCBA-DDepartment Chair and Assistant Professor

Dana Reinecke is a doctoral level Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D). She is an Assistant Professor and the Department Chair for the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis (CABA) at The Sage Colleges. Dana teaches and develops coursework ...

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Building connections and community for teens with disabilities

Katherine Carol Special Needs Expert, Author, Presenter and Consultant Tango Consulting and The Shining Beautiful Series

We live in a vastly interconnected world. So why is it that so many people with disabilities find themselves disconnected?

In today’s work and social environments, connections mean opportunity, as well as the ability to form and influence communities. This often leads to a more meaningful life. Connections and community not only help build powerful economic futures for all of us, but help us to move past online job postings, HR departments and barriers to employment. The richness of these connections translate into social capital and often determine future opportunities.

Katherine CarolSpecial Needs Expert, Author, Presenter and Consultant

Katherine Carol has over three decades of experience working with people with disabilities as a special educator, supported employment program director and organizational/management consultant facilitating national systems change projects. Known...

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Supporting postsecondary success for teens with learning differences

Gayle Bell Director of the College Achievement Program The College Achievement Program at Denver Academy

For students with learning differences (LD), college can be a very challenging place. Less than a quarter attend a 4-year postsecondary institution, and less than half of those complete a degree within 8 years. However, students with LD can be successful with a strong support system. This article provides advice for supporting students with LD in their postsecondary pursuits. Follow these tips to find a program that fits your student--and to ensure ongoing and effective support.

Gayle BellDirector of the College Achievement Program

Gayle Bell has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. She has over ten years experience in education and has worked with students with learning disabilities for the past 5 years. Her work with students with...

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Negotiating adulthood as a teen or young adult with disabilities

Mary C. Schuh Director, National Center on Inclusive Education University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability

There are many “rites of passage” to adulthood that must be available to all young people, including those with disabilities. Growing up is a time of both opportunity and risk. Attending the prom, taking driver’s education classes, visiting colleges, registering to vote and opening a checking account are all important aspects of growing up and becoming independent. Teenagers need to learn how to negotiate the world of adulthood through a wide variety of experiences, most of which do not happen in a special education classroom.

Mary C. SchuhDirector, National Center on Inclusive Education

Dr. Mary Schuh has been with the Institute on Disability since its inception in 1987, working to coordinate family and consumer leadership development and educational systems change activities in the areas of: preschool through secondary transit...

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Achieving inclusion for college students with special needs

Charmaine Thaner Special Education Advocate, Consultant, Public Speaker Visions and Voices Together Visions and Voices Together

College is a goal for many students, but what about students with disabilities? Should we encourage students with significant support needs to attend college? And should we focus on a “regular,” inclusive college?

Charmaine ThanerSpecial Education Advocate, Consultant, Public Speaker Visions and Voices Together

Everything Charmaine does is because she believes life can be better. She works with and learns from parents of school-age children with disabilities by providing tools and strategies so their children receive the education they deserve. Ch...

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How can parents help youth with special needs to become adults?

Jonah Berger Owner & Director of Operations The Rhythm Within.com TallTalesRanch.com

There comes a time in the path of raising a child when parents must consider letting go. This is a process every parent goes through. However, with a typical child, this happens more organically. When it comes to a child with special needs and gifts, parents must force this process.

Jonah BergerOwner & Director of Operations

Masters in Special Education, Owner of The Rhythm Within; therapeutic mentoring program, Director of Operations for Tall Tales Ranch, previous Program Director for Easter Seals of Colorado summer camp, Author of “He Walks Like A Cowboy; One Man’...

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Person-directed planning can empower individuals with autism

Ve Duong Community Options Facilitator/Planning Facilitator Geneva Centre for Autism

For individuals living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making choices in day-to-day activities and life, such as where to live, who to live with and how to spend time in the community, can be challenging. Regardless of how the person with a disability functions, the power to choose and make decisions is often guided and directed by family members or professionals. Person-directed planning is about empowering individuals to make their own choices for the future.

Ve DuongCommunity Options Facilitator/Planning Facilitator

Ve Duong is a graduate of Ryerson University obtaining his Bachelor of Social Work in 2003. Ve has been supporting individuals with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and dual diagnoses for nearly ten years. Currently, Ve is ...

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Help teens on the autism spectrum to navigate social relations

Kimberly Isaac M.S. Autism Specialist / Certified RDI™ Program Consultant Autism with Excellence LLC

Many teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience difficulty with social relationships. Their desire and need to have friendships, combined with their difficulty in understanding others, can lead to great social anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Parents tend to feel lost or conflicted on how to support their teenager’s development in this area.

Kimberly Isaac M.S.Autism Specialist / Certified RDI™ Program Consultant

Kim Isaac is an autism spectrum disorder specialist that specializes in parent training and in work with teens and adults on the autism spectrum. Kim has been in the field of autism since 1997, with experience as an autism therapist and consul...

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Making college a reality for youth with intellectual disabilities

Young adults with intellectual disabilities want the same things as their typically-developing peers. They want freedom to make their own choices; the skills and knowledge needed to be as independent as possible; the opportunity to live, learn and work in their community; and the chance to have active social lives and engaging jobs.

Cynthia May, Ph.D.Professor of Psychology

Cindi May is a Professor of Psychology at the College of Charleston. Her research explores mechanisms for optimizing cognitive function in college students, older adults, and individuals with intellectual disabilities. She is also the project d...

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Teach kids with social learning challenges to become independent

When kids are in preschool, there are tons of books, parent support groups and playgroups. But when kids get older, all of that disappears. This seems to happen during some of the most difficult parenting years when parents have the fewest networks and support systems. And through this process, children are magically supposed to evolve from kids to adults.

Michelle Garcia WinnerFounder of Social Thinking® and a Speech Language Pathologist

Michelle Garcia Winner is the founder of Social Thinking® which specializes in developing treatment models and specific strategies for helping persons with social cognitive learning challenges. She runs and works in her small clinic; has authore...

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Recreation can help teens with needs transition to community life

Students with disabilities have the legal right to a free, public and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment from age 3 to 21. They also have the right to individualized planning, including transition services. However, even with these services in place, many parents worry about what their teens with disabilities will do when they graduate from school and transition to community life.

Amaury Samalot - Rivera, Ph.D.Assistant Professor in General and Adapted Physical Education

· Assistant Professor at State University of New York at Brockport in the Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education Department · PhD in General and Adapted Physical Education from The Ohio State University · Taught for...

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Students with disabilities must plan for postsecondary education

Kelly D. Roberts Associate Professor University of Hawaii, Center on Disability Studies


Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) often graduate from high school without clear transition plans. Because this leaves them with limited options, it is very important to develop plans early. If your student is considering postsecondary education, start planning today.

Kelly D. RobertsAssociate Professor

Kelly D. Roberts, PhD is an Associate Professor at the Center on Disability Studies (CDS) at the University of Hawai`i. She has worked at CDS since 1997. She has been the director of the of the Pacific Basin UCEDD since 2006. Presently she is ...

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Tailoring sex education to teens and adults on the autism spectrum

It is very common for parents raising kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to want their children and teens to do everything that their peers are doing. Parents hope their children will have friends, enjoy school, and participate in sports, music and other extracurricular activities. After all, part of childhood is having rich and diverse experiences with family and friends.

Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C.Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

Zosia Zaks, M.Ed., C.R.C., counsels adults on the autism spectrum and their families on issues related to work, community life, and transition to independence. He also works as a program facilitator at Towson University's Hussman Center for Adul...

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Caring for an aging sibling with disabilities entails teamwork

What happens when aging parents can no longer care for their loved one with special needs? As parents age, siblings tend to assume this responsibility. To help ease the stress of this transition, it is important for parents and caregivers to work together. The following advice will help families as they navigate the transition to a group home or to a specific caregiver.

Carolyn S. BakerEdD

Carolyn S. Baker has been an educator for more than 30 years. Upon her completion of her undergraduate degree from Longwood University in Virginia, she taught in Indiana, Florida,Tennessee, and Texas. She attained a master’s degree from Rollin...

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Teens with special needs must prep for transition to adulthood

When parents are raising teens with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities or mental health challenges, it feels impossible to just get through the teen years. Parents focus on two main things--helping their kids stay in school and stay out of trouble. But parents need to add two more priorities to their list: self-awareness and self-advocacy.

Anna StewartFamily Advocate

Anna Stewart has a particular voice, drawing from her direct experience as a mother of 3 unique teens, she is an advocate, writer and facilitator for parents. She is passionate about the distinction between advocating for and advocating with yo...

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