ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Friday, July 14, 2006: 10:45 AM-12:00 PM
Providence Ballroom I
#2054- Transition to Adult Life: The Delaware Model
This session will describe Delaware’s 15-year experience with transition for adults with behavioral challenges. The presentation will describe how transition and adult services programming work for this selected group including: • School activities leading to transition • The collaboration between the State, the Delaware Autism Program, and provider agencies • Successes • Issues Our next challenge is to promote best practices for adults who do not have behavioral challenges and how the Autism Society of Delaware is addressing this need.

Presenters:Warren K. Ellis, Ph.D., in, Special, Education, Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, Director of Special Populations - Dr. Ellis has 30 years of experience in working with individuals with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings, primarily employment and supported employment. He has served as Director of Special Populations of Delaware's Division of Developmental Disabilties Services for the past 10 years. This program, designed for adults with severe behavioral challenges, is unique in the nation. Dr. Ellis has worked to ensure a smooth transition between school and community providers.

Alexis Hackett, B.A., B.S., M.Ed, Delaware Autism Program, Vocational Specialist - Ms. Hackett has taught at the Delaware Autism Program for 18 years with students who are 12 and older. She is currently the Vocational Specialist, responsible for job development and vocational training services for more than 80 students each year.

Katina Demetriou, B.S., Chimes Delaware, Community Employment Coordinator - Katina Demetriou is the Community Employment Coordinator for Chimes, Delaware. She has worked in adult vocational services for 8 years, and currently oversees development of supported employment for individuals with severe disabilities, primarily autism.

Theda Ellis, M.Ed., MBA, Autism Society of Delaware, Director, Autism Society of Delaware - Ms. Ellis has worked in disability services in three states, and has served as a statewide director of supported employment, independent living, and assistive technology. She most recently served as Associate Director of the University Center for Disabilities Studies before coming to the Autism Society of Delaware.

Parents in Delaware have been an ever present source of advocacy to develop the state's educational and adult services. That role is continuing with expectations that Delaware will offer best practices for adults as identified in a recently completed study by the Autism Society of Delaware. The process of conducting the study taught us that Delaware is itself unique in terms of its systems and services.

This session will share Delaware's unique perspectives and experiences with transition that are based on the existence of the 25-year presence of a statewide educational program that now serves 500 students with autism. The state quickly understood that education was not enough, and responded to the need for adult services by developing its Special Populations program for adults with challenging behaviors.

Delaware has learned many lessons about transition during these past 15 years of transition services into adult life. At the heart is the vision that everyone should have the opportunity to work, and recognition of the importance of carrying the critical communication and behavioral supports provided during school into the adult arena. This presentation will describe those lessons, including what takes place during school; the relationship between the school, the State Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, and the adult service provider. It will also highlight what parents are requesting as well as issues we continue to face. Finally, the panel will offer recommendations about how improvements can continue to be made.

The session will emphasize the role and activities of each organization, how the funding process works, and offer examples of success stories, and stories that weren't successful and why. Highlights will include:

• School activities leading to transition • What happens before age 14 • What happens between 14 and 19 • Goals for the final two years of school • The IEP

• Collaboration with the state agencies • How funding works • Policies that promote transition (and those that don't)

• The transition process with the adult provider • Timeframes • What staff needs to know and understand • Continuation of communication, behavioral and other supports required for the student to be successful

• How we can continue to improve

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