Every adolescent must navigate the transition to adulthood by continuing their education or starting on a career path.
Ability Beyond, an area nonprofit based in Bethel, wants to ensure that young adults with disabilities have the specific tools they need to take that next crucial step.
The newly-launched online Transition Resource Center is a convenient place for parents to learn how to maximize their child’s independence now and plan for a future that is secure and full of opportunity.
“Previously, all of this information could only be accessed in multiple locations after a lot of research,” explained Jane Davis, President and CEO of Ability Beyond. “We have truly established a comprehensive one-stop-shop for families. It is never too early to start planning for a child’s future.”
The Transition Resource Center provides eight informative videos covering all key areas of transition including:
· IEPs & School-Based Supports
· Employment First
· Housing & Daily Life
· College & Post-Secondary Education
· Social Connections & Relationships
· Healthy Living
· Legal Matters & Advocacy
· Finances & Eligibility
The Center also offers worksheets tailored to the topic of each Module to guide the planning process. Anyone can sign up to join at the Ability Beyond website. Membership and all resources are free to the public.
Davis credits the Ability Beyond team led by Michelle Ouimette, Managing Director of Roses for Autism, with creating the original content, writing scripts and shooting the videos. “As experienced professionals who work with our interns every day, the knowledge and insight that they all bring to the transitioning process is immeasurable.”
Roses for Autism is one of the many job training programs offered by Ability Beyond since 2009 that arm participants with employable skills. In fact, 70% of the youth with disabilities ages 18-25 who complete the Ability Beyond Transition Services are employed within 2 years and 29% are enrolled in post-secondary continuing education.
These statistics are impressive given the challenges that emerging adults with disabilities face when federally mandated special education supports end upon graduation from high school. Individuals often struggle to connect with adult services and/or the supports available when adult services are insufficient, leading them to fall off a so-called “cliff” which impedes them from becoming gainfully employed and living independently in the community. The goal of the Transition Resource Center is to bridge that gap.
“Our services allow interns to discover their own personal strengths, interests, and preferences. We love to celebrate their success!” said Davis. “Transition Services is a groundbreaking solution to the unfortunate reality that students with disabilities continue to receive ineffective, often impractical, preparation for the real world and real jobs.”
Since 2009, Ability Beyond has provided services for transition age youth, primarily individuals with developmental disabilities and autism, that is designed to teach them critical and transferable employment and social skills in an industry-specific setting. This short-term career exploration program consists of internship rotations at a variety of host businesses, classroom instruction, and community business exploration, with the goal of securing employment after successful program completion.
In order to meet the unique needs of individuals with a wide range of abilities, Ability Beyond offers Transition Services throughout Connecticut in Hartford, New Haven, and Fairfield Counties and in New York in Upper and Lower Westchester Counties and Putnam County.
Ability Beyond is a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Bethel, Conn. and Chappaqua, N.Y. It provides a wide range of services for over 3,000 people with a disability that inhibits their activities of daily living — including numerous residential alternatives, employment training, career counseling, job placement services, cognitive and life skills instruction, clinical and therapeutic support, and volunteer and recreational activities.
Today, its services extend far beyond the Danbury community into much of Connecticut and the Hudson Valley, New York. For more information about Ability Beyond go to www.abilitybeyond.org.