October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Merging Talent with Opportunities

Autism Speaks is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month through October, and has numerous resources and information available!  Please click on this link to read more about re-thinking employment.



#autism  #autismspeaks #nationaldisabilityemploymentawarenessmonth  #NDEAM


“We don’t care about eye contact”


Obtaining employment as an individual with special needs is a challenge to say the least.  Think about all of the elements involved in seeking out employment and being hired: the job search, resume, cover letter, follow up, phone and in-person interviews, becoming accustomed with a new routine and new faces.

Employment provides one with a feeling of fulfillment, the ability to be independent, developing new relationships, and face new challenges.  Challenge help people grow.

Please read the article below from the Chicago Tribune.  Thank you EY for re-thinking your hiring processes and employment opportunities!


@EYnews  @chicagotribune

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

Transition and Special Needs Planning without the Anxiety and Confusion

By Samantha Kolkey

At Options for College Success, we are currently beginning our annual Parent’s Weekend.  One of the highlights began this afternoon with Andre Sam of the Special Needs Education and Advocacy Project (@snproject).  Andre reached out to us a few months ago, and his knowledge, expertise, and insight are a much needed resource for those who have a loved one with learning challenges and disabilities.

Transition planning and planning for adult services and care in the future is incredibly daunting for any caregiver.  Andre Sam provides workshops and is more than happy to conduct mini consultations to meet with families individually to provide information on planning, including:

Guardianship vs. Power of Attorney vs. Microboards, Wills, Family Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, SSI, SSA, Medicaid/Medicare, ABLE accounts, budget planning, and transition planning.

Our team has been so pleased with the work he has done, and with how he has worked with our families that we had to share this resource! Please contact him at andre.sam@SpecialNeedsProject.org or (801)-884-9684.

It is never too early or too late to plan  for your loved one and your family!

When Life Gives You Lemons…

By Samantha Kolkey

Happy Friday!

Below is a link to a wonderful article about a man who turned the lemons he was given in life into lemonade intended to help people! Cliff Weitzman channeled his struggles with dyslexia and difficulties with speech into a new app catered to help those with cerebral palsy, stroke patients, autism, and various speech disorders communicate. It truly is inspiring and uplifting to see how one can reframe their challenges and create positive outcomes! Let us all get out there and spread positive energy, kindness, and love!


How have you channeled your challenges into the positive?


Love to Eat? How About Cook?

By Marcella Mackowiak

I’m not sure about everyone else, but nothing makes me happier than knowing that I am going to have a great dinner that I prepared. But how about those who live with ASD? Who said that one of my students can’t have the same satisfaction that I do just because they’re on the spectrum? Here’s an article written by Sasha Long on the website The Autism Helper that offers some tips great on cooking with ASD.


Image result for photos of people with autism cooking

Attending College with Learning Challenges

By Samantha Kolkey

Happy Friday! Hope you all are finishing out the week strong!

Yesterday, an article was published in the New York Times titled “Developmentally Disabled, and Going to College.” All the staff here at Options for College Success found it very relevant at this time of year, as well as an important article to spread awareness of the need for services targeted to those transitioning to college with developmental and learning disabilities.  The students that are portrayed in this fabulous article written by Kyle Spencer reminded the Options staff of the student population we work with every day. Once this population transitions out of high school programs into the post-secondary education world, they are often over-looked and treated as unable.  Sometimes parents are left unsure of what to do for their young adult, and this is where our services come into play.

Options for College Success provides services that target all areas of a person’s life to help them succeed in school, work, and transition into independence. We provide academic support and tutoring, career counseling and job support, financial skill building, independent living skills, social skills, and we host social events almost every day of the week. We have a full time residential program, a day program, and are now offering a Skype option.  We develop custom learning plans for every student to help meet them where they are at, and work from a strengths based model.  To find out more, please visit out website at http://www.optionsforcollegesuccess.org or contact us 847.425.4797.

And of course…check out the article: