Director of Transition Services; Assistant Director of NESCA
Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS is Director of Transition Services at NESCA. She is also the Assistant Director of NESCA, working under Dr. Ann Helmus to support day-to-day operations of the practice.
Ms. Challen has been engaged in assessment, development, and direction of transition-focused programming for teenagers and young adults with a wide array of developmental and learning abilities since 2004. While Ms. Challen has special expertise in working with children with autism spectrum disorders and Asperger profiles, she enjoys working with students with a range of cognitive, learning, communication, social, emotional and/or behavioral needs.
Ms. Challen joined NESCA in 2013. She believes that the transition to post-secondary learning, living, and working is ongoing, and that there is no age too early or too late to begin the planning process. Moreover, any transition plan should be person-centered, individualized and include steps beyond the completion of secondary school.
Through her role at NESCA, Ms. Challen provides a wide array of services including individualized transition planning, consultation, pre-college coaching, assessment, training, and program development services. She is particularly skilled in providing transition assessment and consultation aimed at determining optimal timing for a student’s transition to college, technical training, adult learning, and/or employment as well as identifying and developing appropriate programs and services necessary for minimizing critical skill gaps.
Ms. Challen enjoys the creative and collaborative problem-solving process necessary for successfully transitioning students with complex profiles toward independent adulthood. As such, she is regularly engaged in IEP Team Meetings, program consultations, and case management or student coaching as part of individualized post-12th grade programming. Moreover, she continually works to enhance and expand NESCA’s service offerings to meet the growing needs of the families, schools and communities we serve.
More than a decade ago, Ms. Challen began her work with youth with special needs working as a counselor for children and adolescents at Camp Good Times, a former program of Milestones Day School. She spent several years at the MGH Aspire Program (formerly YouthCare) where she founded an array of social, life and career skill development programs for teens and young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and related profiles. Also, she worked at the Northeast Arc as Program Director for the Spotlight Program, a drama-based social pragmatics program, serving youth with a wide range of diagnoses and collaborating with several school districts to design in-house social skill and transition programs.
Ms. Challen received her Master’s Degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Risk and Prevention Counseling from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. While training and obtaining certification as a school guidance counselor, she completed her practicum work at Boston Latin School focusing on competitive college counseling.
Ms. Challen is a member of B-SET Boston Workforce Development Task Force, Massachusetts Advocates for Children IEP Revision Subcommittee, Massachusetts Advocates for Children Transition Assessment Committee, Asperger/Autism Network (AANE) Program Committee, and she co-facilitates an AANE/NESCA Professional Roundtable on Improving Services for Teens and Young Adults in their Post-Secondary Years.
She is also co-author of the chapter, “Technologies to Support Interventions for Social-Emotional Intelligence, Self-Awareness, Personality Style, and Self-Regulation,” for the book Technology Tools for Students with Autism: Innovations that Enhance Independence and Learning.
Most importantly, she is the mother of two young children and two puggles who keep her on her toes and continually help to expand her abilities for inventive and flexible thinking!
Ms. Challen’s blog posts for NESCA News:
- Nearly 1/3 of College Students Drop out or Transfer by the End of Freshman Year: What Can We Do Differently? – December 3, 2018
- Transition Planning: Let’s Talk about Graduation Dates for Students on IEPs
- Pre-Employment Transition Services – What Are They and Who is Eligible?
- Transition Planning: The Missing Link Between Special Education and Successful Adulthood