Tag

adult services

Changes in Transitioning from School-based Services to DDS Adult Services during COVID-19

By | NESCA Notes 2021

By: Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS
Director of Transition Services; Assistant Director, NESCA

Transitioning from public education to adult human service supports is a complicated process that we have covered in several blogs over the years here at NESCA, including the two recent resources linked below:

As with many aspects of life, the existence of a global pandemic has complicated the transition process even more. In Massachusetts, Chapter 688 referrals (the referrals that help adult agencies to request the appropriate amount of funding from the state for supporting students with disabilities after they turn 22) were down by as much as 75% in September 2020. Additionally, referral processes that often were carried out in 2-4 months are taking much longer. In fact, at a team meeting I attended last week, a special education administrator shared that it had taken approximately 9 months to complete a recent referral to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) for a student seeking adult autism services.

[For those unfamiliar with DDS, this is the agency that offers services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).]

To better support transitioning families, DDS recently developed an information sheet that highlights some of the potential changes and challenges families may experience when preparing for their transition to DDS adult service supports during COVID-19. In addition to modified referral timelines, the information sheet touches on changes in how families learn about day and residential programs (e.g., virtual tours) and the ways in which programs may have changed their approaches to service delivery as a result of COVID-19 (e.g., changes to community employment, remote and in-person offerings, visitor policies, etc.).

This DDS information sheet is helpful for professionals and families and is available in several languages on the state’s web site: https://www.mass.gov/lists/transition-considerations-during-covid-19.

 

For families who are struggling to navigate the transition from high school to adult service support, to understand available resources and benefits during or after public education, to create an effective plan for their child during a lapse in service delivery, or with any other transition planning issues, NESCA transition consultation and planning services are here to support you. Visit our transition services page and our transition FAQs or fill out an Intake Form to schedule an appointment with one of our expert transition specialists today.

 

About the Author:

Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS, is NESCA’s Director of Transition Services, overseeing planning, consultation, evaluation, coaching, case management, training and program development services. She is also the Assistant Director of NESCA, working under Dr. Ann Helmus to support day-to-day operations of the practice. Ms. Challen began facilitating programs for children and adolescents with special needs in 2004. After receiving her Master’s Degree and Certificate of Advanced Study in Risk and Prevention Counseling from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ms. Challen spent several years at the MGH Aspire Program 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. She additionally 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 skills and transition programs. Ms. Challen is 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. She is also a proud mother of two energetic boys, ages six and three. While Ms. Challen has special expertise in supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, she provides support to individuals with a wide range of developmental and learning abilities, including students with complex medical needs.

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton, Massachusetts, Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

Helpful Tips for Selecting a Transition Program

By | NESCA Notes 2020

By: Becki Lauzon, M.A., CRC
Transition Specialist and Consultant

As a young adult nears the end of their high school career, many parents begin to question whether or not their child is prepared to make the transition to college or career. In Massachusetts, transition planning begins at the age of 14 in order to best prepare individuals for their future. There are cases, however that some students require an extra year of special education services or will access those services until the age of 22. When a transition program is proposed, parents and caregivers tend to have many questions as to what components they should be looking for and what questions should be asked of the proposed programs.

The following areas are identified by the Massachusetts Student-Driven Secondary Transition Model:

  • Education and Training
  • Competitive Employment
  • Independent Living
  • Community Participation

It is important to note that not every student will require training and instruction in each area. This is where a comprehensive transition assessment can be helpful to determine priority areas. Transition services should be individualized, just as each IEP is individualized throughout a student’s school career.

Transition can be an overwhelming and unfamiliar area for many students and families. While researching transition programs to determine the right one for your teen, the following questions can be helpful in gathering the most information:

  • What does a sample schedule look like? It is important to be sure that every student does not have the same schedule, as the services should be tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • How many hours are spent on instruction in the classroom?
  • How many hours are spent on instruction in the community?
  • What transition curriculum do you use? It is important to note that with transition curriculum, many programs do have to adapt due to student profile. Having an outline of the curriculum areas can be helpful, then ask for examples of how topics are adapted for individuals. For example, when thinking about financial literacy, some students may be working on identifying coins, while others are working on online banking or filing taxes.
  • What does the staffing look like? Many students who are used to small student/teacher ratios or 1:1 assistance will need to start thinking about how that will transition to the adult world.
  • Do you offer MCAS tutoring and test taking? Some students enter a transition program while still needing to complete an MCAS and/or high school credits. This can be done within a transition program environment.
  • What related service providers are part of the program? As students get older, services such as occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) begin to fade. Many times, this is due to the reality of the adult world. It is important to make sure that a student is receiving these services, if needed, in a community setting. Counseling services are also an important area to ask about. Many students who have attended a therapeutic high school program are used to having access to a clinician throughout their day. When you think about the adult world, you most likely would see your counselor once a week or every other week, so it is important to work on a plan to develop coping strategies for when that support begins to fade.
  • What does their remote learning plan look like? In the times of COVID, it is important to ask for a copy of what a program’s remote learning plan looked like. Even if the plan is to return to school in the fall, it’s helpful to know how a program would continue to provide services during these unprecedented times.
  • Do you offer community college supports? If your student is interested in trying a college class, is this something that the program allows? If they do, what does the support look like? Do they assist in accessing disability services, tutoring, etc.?
  • What do the vocational services look like? It is unrealistic to expect that a program can guarantee a paid job, however asking questions related to what their internships look like, what job coaching support they offer, etc., can be helpful.
  • If you are attending a program that is not in your local community, will the program and staff tailor some travel training and/or community-based opportunities to your home town?

 

About the Author

Becki Lauzon, M.A., CRC, works with teens, young adults and their families out of the Newton, MA and Plainville, MA offices. Lauzon has unparalleled experience as a Transition Specialist, Transition Consultant and Vocational Program Coordinator. Lauzon will be providing transition assessment (including testing, functional evaluations and observations) consultation, case management, training and professional development for schools; and transition planning, consultation and coaching for transition-aged students and their parents.

 

To schedule an appointment with one of NESCA’s expert transition specialists or neuropsychologists, please complete our online intake form

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.

 

Preparing for the Transition from Special Education to Adult Services

By | NESCA Notes 2020

By: Becki Lauzon, M.A., CRC
Transition Specialist and Consultant

As many parents, educators and young adults know, the transition from special education services to adult services is an overwhelming and scary time. I recently gave a presentation about breaking down the referral process for adult services, as well as highlighting many types of services that are available once a student turns 22 or graduates from high school. From community-based day supports, to job coaching, accessing travel options and managing the day-to-day tasks of living as independently as possible, there are a handful of resources available within Massachusetts. Below you will find some helpful links to begin educating yourself on what some of those services could look like, answers to commonly asked questions, as well as a breakdown of helpful timelines for when the planning process should begin.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  • What are the adult agencies?
    • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC); Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS); Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH); Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB); and Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
  • What is a 688 referral?
    • A 688 referral can only be completed by school systems for students who may be eligible for adult services. This should be discussed at a student’s IEP meeting AT LEAST two years before the student is expected to graduate or turn 22. It should also be documented in the student’s IEP that it was discussed at the meeting.
    • It is important that the 688 referral is done at least two years before the student is supposed to leave the school system, as this provides enough planning time to determine eligibility for adult services and for the student to be included in the anticipated cost of services for the state.
    • The 688 referral must be signed by the parent or legal guardian, unless the student is over 18 and their own guardian. In this case, the student needs to sign it. There are different agencies (DDS, DMH, MRC, MCB, etc.), and the appropriate one will be discussed and then determined.
  • How do I fill out a self-referral?
    • For the Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
    • For the Department of Mental Health (DMH)
    • For Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC): Students, family members and/or school staff can begin the referral process with a phone call or a visit to the local MRC Area Office. There may also be a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assigned to the student’s high school who can assist with the direct referral process. The MRC direct referral process can begin as early as age 14 or at least two years prior to graduation from high school.

Helpful Links:

 

About the Author

Becki Lauzon, M.A., CRC, works with teens, young adults and their families out of the Newton, MA and Plainville, MA offices. Lauzon has unparalleled experience as a Transition Specialist, Transition Consultant and Vocational Program Coordinator. Lauzon will be providing transition assessment (including testing, functional evaluations and observations) consultation, case management, training and professional development for schools; and transition planning, consultation and coaching for transition-aged students and their parents.

 

To schedule an appointment with one of NESCA’s expert transition specialists or neuropsychologists, please complete our online intake form

 

Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents (NESCA) is a pediatric neuropsychology practice and integrative treatment center with offices in Newton and Plainville, Massachusetts, and Londonderry, New Hampshire, serving clients from preschool through young adulthood and their families. For more information, please email info@nesca-newton.com or call 617-658-9800.