On Giving Tuesday, Donate to Organizations that Fill the Gaps

Options for College Success provides services and support to fill the gap for individuals with learning challenges and disabilities aging out of the school system and launching into their next journey. These individuals stop receiving services through the state between 18 and 22 years of age.  Where do they go next?

These individuals may not be ready for post-secondary schooling nor have the skills to be employed. Employment rates for those with disabilities are very low, and educational attainment is essential to the success of young adults with disabilities because the jobs of the future require technical training and education. Based on the 2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report from the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics, in the U.S. 35.9% of individuals aged 18-64 with disabilities were employed versus 76.6% of those without a disability.

At our organization, we customize an individual’s plan based on where they currently are at in development and what goals they look to achieve. We fill the gaps with hands on, one on one support to provide them with the opportunity to live a healthy, productive and independent life.

Please donate to Options for College Success on this day and as we move into the holiday season.  We want to improve and expand our programming to fit the increasing needs of the population we work with.  Your gift, no matter the size, will directly impact the success of our students.

Please visit www.optionsforcollegesuccess.org and click on our donate button at the bottom of the page or send a check  payable to Options for College Success.

Options for College Success

1515 maple Ave. Suite 190

Evanston, IL 60201

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Autism and Working

By Marcella Mackowiak

#JayGoltz of the #NewYorkTimes did a fantastic interview with Dave and Anthony, who is on the spectrum. It follows Anthony and is progress on getting a job at Mariano’s in Chicago. We as a community need to keep in mind that people on the spectrum are just as capable as the rest of us. The article below tells the story, and it’s a great read…

https://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/on-hiring-and-autism/

How do I Understand Autism as a Sibling?

Image result for pictures of siblings who are autistic

By Marcella Mackowiak

A few months ago I found out that my nephew was diagnosed with autism. It was heartbreaking, but I pulled myself together to support my sister. However, she didn’t tell anyone else in our rather large family.

Last Saturday we all got together for my other nephew’s birthday and it was very clear to the other youngsters that something was wrong with my nephew. I didn’t know if I should explain, but my sister jumped in and said he was a little sick. Then she asked me what was wrong with him. I told her. If one of my many nephews had the courage to ask, then I wonder what the other ones were thinking.

Autism Speaks put an incredible booklet out to help siblings understand what autism is. It keeps it very simple by saying things like “autism effects the way the brain work,” “we don’t know what causes it,” and even giving descriptions of what autism looks like. I think that it’s good for cousins as well.

Check out the link below….

https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/a_siblings_guide_to_autism.pdf

Are we aware yet?

By David Rooney, MNM

Monday, April 2nd, expect to see the Chicago cityscape awash in blue lights for World Autism Awareness Day.  This cool effect promotes a message for acceptance and acts like a beacon for events throughout April.  Families who live day-to-day with ASD often wonder why we need a day, week or month to raise awareness.  Certainly people get plenty of reminders?

Like most anything that consumes us, our lives don’t necessarily translate well to others, especially when regarding social interactions.  And frankly, we need as much compassion and understanding as possible to progress into the coming decades, as we work together to promote independence for our family members.  I’m not addressing the professionals, schools and therapists here exactly but more the neighbors, employers and landlords.  We need them to understand and accept those living with ASD too.

This awareness includes you and me.  It doesn’t take much for us to drift from our mission. Communication works best if we listen as much as we spread the word.  For instance, in our support communities how often do we welcome the outsider?  Of course we remain vigilant to keep our family safe, but do we consider assistance from somebody who genuinely wants to help, or can help but they do not bring direct experience, working with ASD.  We ask, how can they really understand?  When we welcome somebody new into our support community, we raise awareness and can even change minds and lives.

This week is my first-year anniversary working with Options for College Success.  I come from such an outsider’s background.  A Masters with a nonprofit focus helps, but prior to that, my professional experiences draw from careers in the private sector, specifically in home financing and media.  For starters, I know I can help find long term, supportive housing solutions for people living with ASD.  The team here recognize those and other qualities and welcome me.  And it starts with awareness.  We need to spread the word and welcome people from all walks.

On a personal note, my Sister-in-law, Joni’s birthday falls on April 2nd.  She passed away in 2015.  My brother, Larry and his family support my niece, Megan who keeps us aware about ASD.  At Joni’s Celebration of Life, I remember my nephew, Dann reading her posts about coping with her illness and the support, purpose and love Megan provides her entire family each day.  She and her two Cousins, (my nephews) also inspire me to keep up the good work.  Details like these require a discussion, far beyond what first impressions might give and result from an open awareness.

Reminders help too.

Options for College Success Presents…

By Samantha Kolkey, LCSW

 

Happy Friday y’all!

Options for College Success is proud to inform everyone that we are hosting a free event on planning for now and the future!

We are bringing together Andre Sam from The Special Needs Education and Advocacy Project and Kathryn Jackson from Autism Spectrum Therapies for an evening workshop discussing the logistical and emotional support needs in life transitions for individuals with disabilities. In addition, there will be a special segment presented by staff from Northwestern University’s Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab regarding their current research studies on autism and Fragile X.

This event is on Wednesday, February 28th 2018 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Segal Visitor’s Center at Northwestern University.

We will have refreshments!

Please let me know if you plan to attend.  Email: skolkey@optionsforcollegesuccess.org.

I hope to see you there!

special needs education and advocacy project image

Autism in the Work Force

By Samantha Kolkey, LCSW

At Options for College Success, we have career and job support services as part of our core curriculum as our students tend to struggle with finding their passion, building their resume, and interviewing skills.  Our students want jobs, they want to be employed.  However, their challenges with social and communication skills make it difficult for them to gain employment in a desired position.

Those with autism are extremely valuable in the work force but many individuals with autism are unemployed despite their ability to work independently. CBS Sunday Morning produced a news story about this issue and what some companies are doing when hiring individuals on autism spectrum.

“Don’t give up, and make sure to always aim high  Don’t aim in the middle. Shoot for the stars every time because you never know what may happen.” Christopher P.

Dating and Autism

Image result for dating images

By Marcella Mackowiak

I’m not a parent, but I’m watching my friends and family raise teenagers. I find it humorous listening to the stories that they tell me, but I could not imagine what these stories would sound like if their teens were on the spectrum. Maybe not funny, but more perplexing, like “how do I explain [x],” or “is it okay for Jane to know about [y]?” Autism Speaks posted a great article which includes dating tips for teens on the spectrum. Click the link to read below, but they also have some other dating articles. I’ve attached an extra one on tips for potential dating partners.

https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2018/01/12/ten-steps-help-teen-autism-navigate-dating?utm_source=email&utm_medium=text-link&utm_campaign=espeaks

tps://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2016/05/31/10-things-i-wish-people-knew-about-dating-someone-who-has-autism?utm_source=email&utm_medium=text-link&utm_campaign=espeaks