Broward County, Florida’s Schott Communities launched school for adults with autism, special needs

This Florida program for adults with special needs will expand from Saturdays to five days a week. Household skills, public social skills, art and wellness are on the curriculum.

Where do deaf and disabled students find enrichment after they age out of public schools?

That’s the question Liz Disney said bothered her for months. As her 21-year-old special-needs daughter, Micaela, nears the cutoff for high school students, the mother wondered how disabled adults found social lives and stimulating education beyond the classroom.

“There’s a great need for students aging out of the system at 22. Their options are limited as to where they go after that,” Disney said. “I think it’s a common fear for parents with special needs. The community doesn’t exactly have fulfillment with jobs.”

As program director of the Cooper City-based nonprofit Schott Communities, Disney works daily with deaf and disabled adults craving life skills after graduation. To help special-needs students integrate from school into successful social lives, she’s launching a COMPASS program this September.

Stemming from a pilot program Schott created in January 2010, she said COMPASS builds character through classes ranging from ballroom dancing to speech therapy. The special needs-championing agency currently offers the class on Saturdays, which includes arts and crafts projects, a yoga course, field trips and “specials,” or specialized classes where guest speakers teach life skills.

via Schott Communities launch school for special-needs adults – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

iPads used to help Florida preschool children with autism

A Ft. Lauderdale preschool program for children with autism has raised enough money to buy an iPad for each of its 18 classrooms.

As United Press International reports, the tablets are loaded with applications such as Proloquo2Go, a communication app that allows users to select phrases and words to make sentences.

The school raised the money for the iPads in an “18 iPads in 18 Days” donation initiative.The Baudhuin Preschool, located at the Mailmen Segal Institue at Nova Southeastern University, specializes in teaching children with autism spectrum disorders with programs designed for pre-kindergarten students.

The school teaches about 150 students through a contract with the Broward County Board of Education.

via Faster Forward – iPads used to help children with autism.

Program helps developmentally disabled succeed in college

As a child, Megan McCormick of Lexington was told by her parents that her Down syndrome meant she would “have to work much harder” than those without disabilities to achieve what she wanted.

Her parents, James and Malkanthie McCormick, both physicians, never treated her any differently than her five older brothers and sisters though, a fact she credits with helping her graduate high school in 2007 with a 3.75 grade point average, and give her the confidence to enroll in Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington.

“It’s hard, but I’m pushing on,” said the 22-year-old, who so far is earning As and Bs, and is focused on becoming a certified occupational therapy assistant.

McCormick said her success is due in part to a program run by the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute called the Postsecondary Inclusion Partnership. The program provides support for individuals with intellectual and related developmental disabilities to attend regular college classes at postsecondary institutions around the state. Those disabilities can range from Down syndrome to autism, and also can include individuals who have experienced brain injuries.

via Program helps developmentally disabled succeed in college | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal.

Opportunities grow for students with autism, Down syndrome

Like many of his peers, Ben Majewski had a lifelong goal of going to college. Now, the 20-year-old who has Down syndrome and hearing problems is living out his dream despite his disability.

Majewski, a graduate of Newton North High School, is in his first semester at Massachusetts Bay Community College’s Wellesley Hills campus, taking a psychology class in career and life planning, getting tutoring, going to the gym, and making new friends.

“I got a buddy here, he has Down syndrome, he’s a veteran around here,’’ Majewski said. “He’s showing me the ropes, teaching me where everything is, and helping me meet new people.’’

Higher education used to be out of the question for students with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders, but now, there are increasing opportunities for such students to go to college in part because of a recent infusion of state and federal funds. In Massachusetts, the Inclusive Current Enrollment Initiative, a partnership between public high schools and seven community colleges that started in 2007, is helping students ages 18 to 22 with intellectual disabilities pursue higher education.

via Opportunities grow for students with disabilities – The Boston Globe.

IQ scores don’t predict academic performance in children with autism

New data show that many children with autism spectrum disorders have greater academic abilities than previously thought. In a study by researchers at the University of Washington, 90 percent of high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorders showed a discrepancy between their IQ score and their performance on reading, spelling and math tests.

“Academic achievement is a potential source of self-worth and source of feeling of mastery that people may not have realized is available to children with autism,” said Annette Estes, research assistant professor at the UW’s Autism Center.

Improved autism diagnosis and early behavioral interventions have led to more and more children being ranked in the high-functioning range, with average to above average IQs. Up to 70 percent of autistic children are considered high-functioning, though they have significant social communication challenges.

via IQ scores fail to predict academic performance in children with autism.

Texas autism dads start non-profit to train students with autism for good employment

PLANO — What began with two men worried about the futures of their young autistic children has blossomed into a nonprofit that wants to train high-functioning young adults for high-paying work in fields such as video gaming and computer graphics.

The nonPareil Institute — nonPareil meaning unparalleled — has secured an anonymous $200,000 donation from the parent of a child with autism and used part of that money to open a small training center at Southern Methodist University’s Plano campus last month.

The institute, started a year ago in the breakfast nook of co-founder Dan Selec’s Plano home, has 20 students learning fundamental computer language at the college.

Students have produced two games — TicTacToe! and Space Paranoids! — that are available on nonPareil’s website, www.npitx.org. They are also working on two iPhone applications. One will be available for $1 in the Apple iTunes store this month, and the second in December or January, said Selec, nonPareil’s CEO, and Gary Moore, co-founder and president. For competitive reasons, details of the apps have not been disclosed.

Both men, who spent their careers in information technology, have a teenage son with autism.

via NonPareil Institute gets $200,000 donation | Business | Dallas Business, Texas Business,….

An autism sibling writes

Here’s a nice piece written by an autism sibling for her Massachusetts high school newspaper. As she concludes: “People with autism face enough obstacles and shouldn’t have to deal with the ignorance of people as well.”

It’s always hard to live with small children in the house, but I don’t think people really know the difficulties until they have a child or a sibling with a disability. My brother, Jakob O’Hare, is twelve years old, and he has autism. I think he was diagnosed with autism when he was three.

When you look at him, you see a normal happy kid; it’s just his mind that doesn’t move as fast as everyone else’s. It’s sometimes hard to understand what he is trying to say, but once you’re around him for a little bit, you start to catch on to how he pronounces things.

Triton Voice – Triton Regional High School – Living With Autism.

Eve Samples: A house torn apart by autism, a house of worship united by it » TCPalm.com

This Eve Samples column tells the story of a Florida pastor and his family, including a son with severe autism. Paul and Cecelia Thompson started The Hope Center for Autism in 2002. It now includes a public charter school for autistic students.

Books line almost every square inch of Pastor Paul Thompson’s office, but one waist-high shelf stands out from the others. It is packed with volumes examining the way the church addresses people with disabilities. This is the subject Thompson has been researching for his doctoral dissertation. He has been living his research, too. Thompson, the pastor at First Baptist Jensen Beach, and his wife, Cecilia, are the parents of four children — including 12-year-old Mark, who has a severe form of autism. via Eve Samples: A house torn apart by autism, a house of worship united by it » TCPalm.com.

Author of children’s book about autism named West Virginia teacher of the year

A sixth-grade reading teacher and the author of the award-winning “Kyle’s Colorful Life” has been named teacher of the year in West Virginia.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A veteran Raleigh County educator has been named West Virginia’s 2011 Teacher of the Year.

Drema McNeal will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

via Raleigh County educator named W.Va. Teacher of Year  – News – The Charleston Gazette – West Virginia News and Sports -.

Autistic boy can bring service dog to school

A legal battle over a boy and his dog has ended, allowing an autistic second-grader to bring his service dog to school for good.

In a ruling released Aug. 24, the Fourth District Appellate Court of Illinois said the Villa Grove Community Unit School District #302, located south of Champaign-Urbana, could not keep seven-year-old Kaleb Drew from attending school with his service dog, Chewey, setting a precedent in the first known case to challenge the Illinois School Code regarding service animals in schools. The school district has now granted Kaleb and Chewey a permanent hall pass, apparently ending the year-long battle.

via Dog fight ends with hall pass.