Local Mother and Advocate Creating Opportunities for Latino Communities, Helping Support Individuals with Autism

 

In 2008, two mothers saw a gap in support services for young adults with learning challenges and disabilities. They decided to partner in founding Options for College Success to fill this gap.

WGN presented a story about a Chicago mother who also saw a gap, specifically in opportunities for individuals with autism in Latino communities, so she decided to create her own business to fill this gap!  Please click the link below to get the details and explore the opportunities created!

Young people with autism find sweet success in Chicago mom’s enterprise

To Our Founder’s: THANK YOU

Options for College Success was founded in 2009 by two mothers with a mission of supporting post- secondary students with learning challenges to be successful in college.  After working in the education field, both realized there were many students with learning challenges that were not receiving the support needed within the school system and decided they needed to intervene and help those students.  Over the years the mission developed into the more comprehensive program it is today, including finance skill building, independent living skills, social skills, vocational support, and providing social event opportunities.  These women had a vision and worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition.

As both of our founder’s have now retired, we wanted to highlight these incredible individuals that created this strong community, the Options for College Success family.

Christine Anderson worked in the education field for over 40 years.   She began in an inner-city school in Savannah, Georgia. She then transferred to the Savannah Association for Children with Specific Learning Disabilities. After raising her family in the Chicago area, Christine returned to the workforce, first as a director for an alternative high school and then as a director for a national program for young adults with learning challenges. The drive to advocate and support this population has been a passion of Christine’s.  Christine stepped down from her role as Executive Director in January of 2018.  She continues her dedication to the community, co-creating and launching an app, Glimmer (www.glimmerconnect.com), with her son.

Shoshana Axler, born and raised in Chicago, was a classroom teacher as well as a mentor for many years in the Chicago area.  She earned a master’s degree from Rhode Island College in education.  Her commitment to the success of young adults creates an ongoing connection with all students and families she has served.  Shoshana spent several years fundraising for cancer research and then returned to the field of education.  Shoshana is the mother of 3 grown children and many grandchildren.  Shoshana retired this last week and will be moving to be with her family in Israel. Shoshana’s generosity, dedication to community, and enthusiasm is profound, and it runs deep within the foundation of our organization.

We are forever grateful to our founders! We will always continue the mission set forth by these brilliant women! The Options for College Success family wishes Christine and Shoshana joy and happiness as they embark on their new journey!

At War with a Learning Disability

Our organization came across an interesting article from The New York Times Magazine.  A soldier wrote about her experience as an active duty soldier in the army, navigating her military dream with a learning disability.

We focus our work on developing grit and perseverance. These qualities provided Ms. Zephrine with a strong foundation to realize her dream of joining the army, and obtaining her master’s degree in social work.

We are sharing this story as a way to showcase the life experiences told firsthand by individuals with learning disabilities and other challenges. Please note that this is one person’s experience.

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

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

There’s an App for that!

By Samantha Kolkey

As we all may know, there are literally applications for our phones, tablets and computers that will help with almost anything.

All of our students, as most people can relate to, are glued to their phones.  If I can help them utilize their phones to support the development of executive functioning skills, to establish a routine or habit, to limit distractions, or provide other ways to study for their classes, then I am open to this technology.

I was recently working with a student who has executive functioning deficits and needed support in establishing a more independent morning routine, including a more effective alarm.  A colleague suggested that I look at the app “Alarmy.”  Alarmy allows the person to set their alarm with a choice of settings: Take a Picture, Solve Math Problems, and Shake Shake (where you must shake the phone a specific number of times for the alarm to turn off).  This app helps decrease one’s tendency to snooze their alarm multiple times, and to not stay in bed for a long period of time. https://alar.my

Other apps to explore:

Streaks:  This app helps in establishing habits.  You can choose up to 12 tasks that you want to turn into daily habits. When it is checked off for the day, it creates a streak.  The visual of the streak creates a sense of accomplishment, aiming to motivate the individual to continue with the task.  If it is not checked off, the streak resets to zero. https://streaksapp.com/

Forest: Stay Focused, Be Present: For those who have trouble stepping away from the internet to complete a task, study session, etc.  This app allows the user to create their own forest.  You begin by planting a seed.  Within the next 30 minutes, the seed will gradually grow into a tree. If you end up going to browse websites, the tree will wither away.  You can even put specific websites that distract you most on a “Blacklist.” This app will help to cultivate effective time management, and can also be used to decrease dependency on the internet. https://www.forestapp.cc/en/

Quizlet:  Supports studying on the go.  You can get gentle reminders to study, see how you’re improving, and work in short study sessions.  This allows you to create a study plan and can guide you through what and when to practice. https://quizlet.com/mobile

AudioNote:  This app combines the function of a notepad and a voice recorder to save time and improve the quality of one’s notes. AudioNote will automatically index lectures, meetings, interviews, or study sessions.  http://luminantsoftware.com/iphone/audionote.html

IntervalMinder:  This app can be used to support one’s therapy and self-monitoring goals. It is very effective for monitoring breaks. https://notchlandlabs.wordpress.com/about-2/interval-minder/

 

Happy App-ing!

 

 

 

Joining a Band…Autism Style

 

Image result for pictures of musical instruments

By Marcella Mackowiak

While blogging should be a rather easy thing for me, this week, it’s not. I found on Saturday that my 20 month old nephew has been diagnosed with ASD. While I am exposed to ASD everyday, and have many years of experience, I guess that one is never prepared to hear such news. It didn’t hit me until now, until working on this blog, that he will face so many challenges and perhaps a cruel world, and that has me crying even though I am supposed to be cheery for my students coming in today.

All of that being said, on Sunday a coworker sent a wonderful story (not even knowing my news) about a music teacher in Queens, NY who has taught students on the spectrum to play musical instruments using iPads! What made me break down in this video was hearing about the non-verbal student who started talking-even singing! Thank you to Adam Goldberg, at P.S. 177, who struggled to get his students to break through, then found a way.

I know that we are living in a time where there is more help for those living with ASD, but that doesn’t take away the fear that I have of my nephew being stigmatized or having no one in the world to care for him outside of my family. However, Adam Goldberg gives me hope. Please watch and enjoy the video below…