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The Autistic Spectrum



Workforce Centers and WIA Youth Programs

 One-Stop Workforce Centers are the centerpiece of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). The One-Stop system operates through a network of centers in each state. These workforce centers provide job training, education, and employment services at a single neighborhood location. States are required to have at least one center located in each local service delivery area. Any city or county with a population of 500,000 or more is automatically approved as a local workforce investment area.

Every individual, including people with disabilities, has the right to access the basic services offered by a Center. These services include skill assessments; information on employment and training opportunities; and unemployment services, such as job search and placement assistance and up-to-date information on job vacancies.

People with disabilities have more choices in the workforce center system than they had in the past. Individuals who need more than the basic services offered by Workforce Centers can also access vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities through their workforce center.

WIA also provides a variety of youth development programs that help eligible youth prepare for and find employment. Youth activities are provided to low-income youth. To be eligible, low-income youth between the ages 14 and 21 must also be:

  • a high school dropout
  • in need of basic literacy skills
  • homeless, runaway, or a foster child
  • a pregnant mother or a parent
  • an offender
  • someone who needs help in completing an educational program or securing and holding a job

While young people with disabilities can qualify under the same criteria as any other youth, WIA incorporates the following provisions to ensure that youth with disabilities can participate.

  • Low-income youth with disabilities who need additional assistance to complete an educational program or to secure and hold employment are eligible for youth services.
  • WIA considers only the personal income of youth with disabilities -- not the income of their family -- when determining income criteria for eligibility.
  • Youth who have already qualified to receive cash payments from any Federal, state, or local public assistance program (such as SSI benefits from Social Security), are automatically eligible for youth services.
  • Finally, up to five percent of youth program participants do not have to meet income criteria, as long as they are from specific populations, one of which is youth with disabilities.

One significant reform of the 1999 WIA was the consolidation of federally funded year-round and summer youth programs. Under WIA, each local workforce area must have a year-round youth services strategy that incorporates summer youth employment opportunities as one of ten required program elements. Required youth support services include tutoring, study skills instruction, support leading to high school completion (including dropout prevention), alternative school services, adult mentoring, paid and unpaid work experiences (including internships and job shadowing), occupational skills training, leadership development opportunities, follow-up services for not less than 12 months as appropriate, and comprehensive guidance and counseling.

Workforce Centers and WIA Links:

"Career Planning Begins with Assessment", an Assessment guide written by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth to help for service providers find good career-related assessments and determine when a youth would benefit from assessment to determine the presence of a disability

What is a Workforce Center? http://www.pacer.org/pride/workforce.htm

Minnesota WIA Youth Providers: http://www.deed.state.mn.us/youth/wiayouth.htm

Minnesota Youth Employment & Training Services: http://www.deed.state.mn.us/youth/myp.htm

Minnesota Workforce Center System: http://www.deed.state.mn.us/jobs/

Find a One-Stop Career Center Near You: http://www.servicelocator.org

One-Stops: Getting Involved in Transition, an article from the National Workforce Collaborative on Disability: http://www.onestops.info/article.php?article_id=82

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) - Youth Provisions -- Public Law 105-220; What the Law States: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/resources_&_Publications/disability_Legislation/wia.shtml#content

"Youth and One Stop Shops," a PACER newsletter article from Point of Departure, Vol. 4, no. 1: http://www.pacer.org/tatra/pod_fall00.htm#youth

Addressing the Transition Needs of Youth with Disabilities Through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) System, NCSET Information Brief Vol. 1, Issue 6: http://www.ncset.org/publications/viewdesc.asp?id=703

How Young People Can Benefit from One-Stop Centers, NCWD/Youth Information Brief: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/assets/info_briefs/infobrief_issue3.pdf

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/workforce.htm

 

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE  ~  Special Needs Trusts

What is a Supplemental Needs Trust?

Individuals with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities who have assets over
approximately $2,000 are ineligible to receive state and federal services and must spend their money down to this amount first. However, the government does allow "special needs trusts" to be set up
for children with disabilities. These are irrevocable trusts in which a guardian decides how to spend the money on the child. They are the best way for relatives to leave funds to the child, as they do not count against the child when determining their eligibility for government services.
 
Generally, need-based government benefit programs allow a person to keep no more than $2,000 (SSI limit) in resources. This is what is known as the "subsistence level." Any additional income beyond the subsistence level will reduce or eliminate the availability of public benefits. Without the Supplemental Needs Trust, a person would be forced to choose between keeping a limited public benefit and having adequate private funds to improve his or her quality of life.
 
Now families can plan for the future of their disabled family member. Families no longer need to fear that their son or daughter will live at a subsistence level. Families can provide housing and other services which have come to be considered fundamental to the concept of "quality of life." The disabled are no longer left subject to the constraints of the Federal and State budgets, and open to the curtailment of the bare minimum existence that government programs allow.
 
The Supplemental Needs Trust can meet many of the concerns of family members and secure their family members with a home of their own.The New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) has developed at no charge, "A Guide for Families and Friends of People with Developmental Disabilities" to help families better understand the many important facts and information on issues involved in planning for the future.
 
To request your copy of "A Guide for Families and Friends of People with Developmental Disabilities" contact:
 
New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC)
155 Washington Avenue, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12210
(800) 395-3372
 
Ask for their recent copy of Planning for the Future: A Guide for Families and Friends of People with Developmental Disabilities.
___________________________________
Letter of Intent

A Letter of Intent is intended to describe the life of your loved one and express your hopes and
wishes as parents and caregivers, particularly in the event of your death or inability to continue in the care giving role.

What is the Letter of Intent?
Simply put, the Letter of Intent is a document written by you (the parents or guardians) or other family
members that describes your son or daughter's history, his or her current status, and what you hope for him or her in the future.
 
You would be wise to write this letter today and add to it as the years go by, updating it when information about your son or daughter changes. To the maximum extent possible, it is also a good idea to involve your child in the writing of this Letter, so that the Letter truly "presents" and represents your child. The Letter is then ready at any moment to be used by all the
individuals who will be involved in caring for your son or daughter, should you become ill or disabled yourself, or when you should pass away.
 
Even though the Letter of Intent is not a legal document, the courts and others can rely upon the Letter for guidance in understanding your son or daughter and the wishes of you, the parents. In this way, you can continue to "speak out" on behalf of your son or daughter, providing insight and knowledge about his or her own best possible care.

Why is it Important to Write a Letter of Intent?
A Letter of Intent serves many purposes. First, it spells out in black and white your son or daughter's
background and history and his or her present situation. It also describes your wishes, hopes, and desires for his or her future care and, where possible, describes your child's feelings about the present and desires for the future. While you are still living, the Letter can be used by your lawyers and financial planners to draft the proper legal documents (wills and/or trusts) to ensure your wishes
are carried out.
 
Once you are no longer able to take care of your son or daughter, due to death or illness - and this is the most important reason to write a Letter of Intent - the Letter gives your son or
daughter's future caregivers some insight into how to care for him or her. It provides advice on possible alternatives for his or her care. If your child has a severe disability, caregivers will not have to waste precious time learning the most appropriate behavior or medical management techniques to use.
 
If your child is used to doing things independently and only requires occasional assistance, the Letter can spell out exactly what is needed. The Letter of Intent can describe this very concrete information and much, much more, including valuable information about the personality of your son or daughter - his or her likes, dislikes, talents, special problems, and strengths. Thus, the Letter is a crucial part of any life or estate plan, because it speaks both for and about the person with a disability
and his or her family.

When Should Parents Write the Letter of Intent?
The answer is a simple one. Start now. Start today. Procrastination is easy, when your health is good,
the future looks bright, and there are a hundred other pressing tasks to be done. But none of us can predict the future. What will happen to your son or daughter, if something happens to you? Will your
relatives, friends, lawyer, or the police know where to contact your son or daughter - and will that person know enough about your loved one to know what kind of care is needed and how best to provide it?
 
Writing the Letter of Intent now is a way to protect your son or daughter from unnecessary chaos and turmoil when he or she must depend upon someone other than you for the care and support that is necessary. The Letter of Intent helps pave your son or daughter's transition by giving future caregivers the information about him or her that they so vitally need.
 
Preparing the Letter is often an emotional experience for parents and their children. You will need self-discipline and motivation to work past the many painful questions and issues that must be
addressed when considering your son or daughter's future.

What Information Goes Into the Letter of Intent?
How can you summarize the life of a person you have watched grow and develop over many years?
What can you say that will give insight into and perhaps touch the heart of a care provider who must suddenly assume some measure of responsibility for your son or daughter?
 
Basically, the procedures for developing a Letter of Intent are fairly simple. You can write the Letter out longhand, or you can use a computer or typewriter. Don't worry about perfect spelling or grammar; your major concern is that anyone who reads the Letter in the future can understand exactly what you meant and what you would like to see happen in your son or daughter's life.
Begin by addressing the Letter to "To Whom It May Concern." In the first paragraph list the current names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the people who should be contacted if anything should happen to you (i.e., other children, case manager, your son or daughter's school principal or
employer, lawyer, financial planner, priest, etc.).
 
You might then briefly state the family history; include names, birthdates, and addresses of family members. The Letter will then need to focus in upon seven potentially major areas of your son's or daughter's past, present, and future life. Depending upon your child's needs, these areas may be:
 
housing/residential care, education, employment, medical history and care, behavior management, social environment, and religious environment. You might begin by summarizing your son's or daughter's background and present status in each of these areas.
 
Then summarize your wishes, hopes, and desires for his or her "best" future, listing three or four options in each of these areas. Be sure to discuss your ideas with your son or daughter and to take into consideration his or her feelings on the future (more is said about this below). The worksheet shown at the end of this article is useful for this "future planning" step, which may require much thought and planning before you actually begin to write information into the Letter of Intent.
 
Take a brief look at the example below (marked "An Example for Writing a Letter of Intent"). This example focuses on only one of the major life areas - Housing/Residential Care - and illustrates how a person named Mrs. Sanders went about writing this section of her Letter of Intent for her son named Chris, a 35 year old man with developmental disabilities.

How Do I Involve My Son or Daughter in Writing the Letter?
How much you involve your son or daughter in writing the Letter of Intent will depend in large part
upon his or her age and the nature and severity of the disability. It is only fitting that young adults and adult children be involved in planning their own lives to the maximum extent possible. Many individuals have disabilities that do not prevent their full or partial participation in the Letter-writing process.
 
Before involving your child, however, you, as parents, might want to talk first among yourselves about the content of the Letter and your ideas regarding your child's future. When you've
agreed upon the basic information you feel should go in the Letter, discuss each area with your son or daughter. Ask for your child's input about his or her favorite things to do, what type of education has been enjoyable and what might be pursued in the future, what type of employment he or she enjoys or envisions.
 
Equally crucial to discuss are your child's future living arrangements: How does your child feel about the options you are considering listing in the Letter of Intent? It's important that your child realize that the Letter is not a binding, legal document; it is written to give guidance, not edicts, to all those involved in care giving in the future. If you fear that your child will be upset by talking about a future that does not involve you as parents, then you may wish to make the discussion simply about the future - what will happen when your child leaves high school or a postsecondary training program, what your child wants to be or do in the next ten years, where he or
she wants to live.
 
You may be surprised to find that discussing the future actually relieves your child. He or she may very well be worrying about what will happen when you are no longer there to provide
whatever assistance is needed. Involving your child in discussing and making decisions about the future may be more difficult if the individual has a disability that severely limits his or her ability to communicate or to judge between a
variety of options. You, as parents, are probably the best judges of how much - and how - you can involve a son or daughter with a severe cognitive disability. For these children, the Letter is especially critical; it will serve to communicate the vital information about themselves that they cannot.

An Example For Writing a Letter of Intent
Titling a section of her Letter "Housing/Residential Care," Mrs. Sanders writes that Chris has always
lived at home and had a room to himself. She briefly describes the family home and the articles in the home that give Chris special pleasure, such as his portable radio.
 
She then describes his daily and weekly routine, including the fact that Chris finds great joy in going to dances each week at the local Arc. She briefly lists his favorite clothing, food, games, and so on. She also mentions that each year Chris visits his sister for a week in the summer.
 
Mrs. Sanders then considers what future living arrangements might be suitable for Chris, and she uses the worksheet at the end of this article ("Letter of Intent Worksheet") to jot down three options. Before she transfers these options from the worksheet to her Letter of Intent, she discusses each one
with Chris. She does so because he needs to be a key member of the team planning his future life.
 
Following her talk with Chris, Mrs. Sanders lists the agreed upon information in her Letter of Intent.
 
The first option she lists is the possibility that Chris might live with his sister. As a second possibility, he might live with an old family friend. The third option is residence in a group home. Because this last option may indeed be the one that is finally selected for Chris, Mrs. Sanders takes care to describe the type of group home she thinks he would enjoy. As a mother and lifelong friend to Chris, she sees past his limitations to his strengths, and she notes these down in some detail. Lastly, she
expresses her desire that the group home will give him room to grow and build upon those strengths.
 
"Residential Care" is just one important area for Mrs. Sanders to cover in her Letter of Intent. It takes her a week to complete the other sections. She finds that describing the past is not nearly as difficult as considering the future, but she methodically and systematically works her way through each area, using the worksheet when planning is necessary. The end result is a Letter of Intent that is twelve pages long, handwritten. She feels comfortable that anyone picking up this Letter of Intent will have a head start in getting to know and care for Chris.

What Happens Once the Letter of Intent Is Written?
Once you've written the Letter of Intent about your son or daughter, the first, most important thing to
do is to let people know that there is a Letter of Intent available to be consulted. This might mean telling your other children (or relatives, neighbors, friends, workshop director, pastor, or case manager) why you have written the Letter, what type of information it contains, and where the Letter can be found. Put the Letter in an easily accessible place, and make it clearly identifiable. Many
parents also make copies of the Letter and give it to their other children (or persons such as a neighbor).
 
Secondly, you should update the Letter on a regular basis. Select one day out of each year (such as the last day of school or perhaps your son's or daughter's birthday) where you will review what you have written and add any new information of importance. Talk with your child each time and incorporate his or her ideas. After each addition, sign and date the Letter. Should something change in your son or daughter's life, such as his or her caseworker or the medication he or she is taking, update the Letter immediately.

In Conclusion...
Will your Letter of Intent overcome all of the obstacles to your son or daughter's transition into
someone else's care? No, of course not. However, the Letter is of immediate usefulness in coping with your child's changed situation and, in the long term, will certainly help care providers understand and care for your loved one.
__________________________________
Letter Of Intent Worksheet:
 
Considering Your Child's Future

For each applicable area below, consider your son or daughter's future. List 3-4 options to guide
future caregivers in decision making and interaction with your child. Draw upon what you know about your son or daughter, through observation and through discussion with your child, and share what you've learned.
 
Residence:
If something should happen to you tomorrow, where will your son or daughter live?
 
Education:
You have a lifelong perspective of your son or daughter's capabilities. Share it!
 
Employment:
What has your son or daughter enjoyed? Consider his or her goals, aspirations, limitations, etc.
 
Medical Care:
What has and has not worked with your son or daughter? What should future caregivers know?
 
Behavior Management:
What consistent approach has worked best in your absence during difficult transition periods in your
son's or daughter's life?
 
Social:
What activities make life meaningful for your son or daughter?
 
Religious:
Is there a special church or synagogue or person your son's or daughter prefers for fellowship?

Additional Considerations

Advocate/Guardian:
Who will look after, fight for, and be a friend to your child? (List 3-4 options.)
 
Trustee(s):
Who do you trust to manage your son or daughter's supplementary funds? (List 3-4 options.)
 

Additional Resources:
Letter of Intent
http://www.cresources.org/planning/intent.html
 
________________________________________
Medicaid Waivers
 
The National Association of State Medicaid Directors provides a listing of all Medicaid waivers by State on their website. Learn what services are available for your child or loved one in your state.

Home and Community-Based Medicaid Waiver Information
 
You can view the latest summary report of all home and community-based services waivers and a broad overview of programs organized by target groups.
 
_____________________________________
Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
Some adults with ASD, especially those with high-functioning autism or with Asperger syndrome, are
able to work successfully in mainstream jobs. Nevertheless, communication and social problems often cause difficulties in many areas of life. They will continue to need encouragement and moral support in their struggle for an independent life.
 
Many others with ASD are capable of employment in sheltered workshops under the supervision of managers trained in working with persons with disabilities. A nurturing environment at home, at school, and later in job training and at work, helps persons with ASD continue to learn and to develop throughout their lives.
 
The public schools' responsibility for providing services ends when the person with ASD reaches the age of 22. The family is then faced with the challenge of finding living arrangements and employment to match the particular needs of their adult child, as well as the programs and facilities that can provide support services to achieve these goals. Long before your child finishes school, you will want to search for the best programs and facilities for your young adult. If you know other parents of
ASD adults, ask them about the services available in your community.
 
If your community has little to offer, serve as an advocate for your child and work toward the goal of improved employment
services. Research the resources listed in the back of this brochure to learn as much as possible about the help your child is eligible to receive as an adult.

Preparing for Employment

To successfully transition to adulthood, all youth should be exposed to a range of work-based exploration experiences such as site visits, community service, job shadowing, and paid and unpaid internships. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only one-third of young people with disabilities who need job training receive it.

To adequately prepare youth for real-world employment, career and technical education should be based on state or industry standards, and youth should be taught using varied learning strategies that are appropriate to each individual.

In order to help youth make informed choices, youth should undergo a career assessment that includes, but is not limited to, interest inventories, and formal and informal vocational assessments. They should also be exposed to job training and career opportunities that provide a living wage.

Parents also play an important role in providing invaluable career guidance and support to young adults with and without disabilities. Parents help teenagers prepare for adult work by providing positive adult models to follow; exposure to careers and occupations; clear expectations -- neither too high nor too low; contacts and networks in the community; and values and attitudes such as discipline, concentration, and a willingness to take on challenges.

Finding a job may seem like a daunting task for someone with a disability. People with disabilities are often uncertain as to what kinds of jobs are available to them and whether they are qualified to do those jobs. In fact, it is common for persons with disabilities to underestimate their own skills and abilities when looking for a job. While it is natural to have fears about entering the workforce, remember this: no matter what your disability, there is a job out there for you. It may take more time and effort to find that job, but it can be done!

Vocational Service Agencies

  • State Rehabilitation Services (www.deed.state.mn.us/rehab/) - This agency offers comprehensive vocational services to persons with disabilities. Services can include job training and placement, assistance with college tuition, and assistance with obtaining appropriate assistive technology.
  • State Services for the Blind (www.mnssb.org) - This agency provides vocational services to individuals with substantial visual impairments. The services offered by SSB are very similar to those offered by Rehabilitation Services.

Preparing for Employment Links:

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/employment.htm

Resources for Teen Job Hunters

Summer Employment

Summer jobs are a great way to get experience and prepare yourself for a successful career. For young people with disabilities, finding the right summer job can take some additional time and effort. However, don't get discouraged. With a little planning, you will find the right job for you. Here are some tips to help you get started with your search:

  • Ask yourself what your interests are. Do you like working outside? Maybe you can find a job at a park or a beach. Do you like animals? The local zoo or animal shelter might have a job for you.
  • Talk to your parents and relatives. They might know of summer job opportunities at their places of work. Your friends may also have some ideas about where to find good summer jobs.
  • If you are in high school, talk to your teachers and/or guidance counselor. If you are in college or technical school, visit your career guidance office. These people might be able to assist you with your job search by connecting you with employers who are looking for summer workers and interns.
  • Think about volunteering. Many community service organizations need more volunteers, especially during the summer. Some places that might need volunteers are libraries, hospitals, food banks, and daycare centers.
  • Call or write to different employers and ask them if they have any jobs available. Many employers are happy to respond to such inquiries. They might even give you an interview if you can tell them why you are interested in working for them.
  • Think about starting your own business. For example, you could mow lawns or walk your neighbors' dogs. You could also give computer lessons or design web pages for a small business or non-profit agency.
  • Search the Internet for summer job listings. Visit on-line job banks and do a search with the keyword "summer." Check the job listings in your local newspaper. You never know what you might find!

Some Advice for Job Hunters

Looking for a job can be a time-consuming and emotional process, especially for people with disabilities. A job search can last for several weeks or months and it is easy to become discouraged. There are many things that you can do to keep your spirits up and make a job search more effective. Below are a few suggestions.

  • Many people find jobs through networking. Networking means talking to friends, family members, former employers, and other people you know. They might be able to direct you to other people who might be able to tell you of job openings. You can start networking by calling or e-mailing ten friends and tell them that you are looking for a job. You will be surprised at how quickly your network grows.
  • Send your résumé to employers that really interest you, even if they do not have any positions available at the moment. They will be sure to keep you in mind for any future openings once they know of your interest.
  • Follow up on résumés that you have sent to an employer. If you have not heard from an employer after two weeks, it is perfectly acceptable to call and ask if they have received your application. This shows the employer that you are definitely interested in the position.
  • While you are looking for a job, try to keep yourself occupied. It can be frustrating to sit around the house all day and wait for the phone to ring. Use your free time to do something that you enjoy, like writing or going for walks. You might also think about doing volunteer work in your community. By staying busy and doing things you enjoy, you will feel less stressed about your job search.
  • Don't beat yourself up if you can't find a job. Looking for a job is never easy. It is natural to start feeling depressed. People without disabilities often have similar feelings when job hunting. But don't give up. You will find something that is right for you. It will take time and lots of work, but it will happen if you keep trying.

Websites on Self Advocacy and Careers for Teens

  • ISEEK - Minnesota Internet System for Education and Employment Knowledge
  • Career Connections - a web page of the Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) with links to some great on-line resources and activities
  • Career Development Strategies - information for youth from the Wisconsin Workforce Development Career Center
  • Career Information for youth from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics
    Text version
    http://www.bls.gov/k12/
  • Career Voyages - information for youth from the US Departments of Labor and Education
  • Jobland - information for youth from the Tomkins Workforce Center New York. Click on "Full Youth Integration Website" and then "Jobland"
  • Kids as Self Advocates
  • Minnesota Statewide Family Network - Online favorites of the MSFN Youth Advisory Board
  • National Youth Leadership Network
  • Partners Online - This program connects youth with disabilities to adult mentors and peers with similar disabilities in a safe online community.
  • What Job Seekers with Disabilities Need to Know, tips from the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy
  • Students.gov - a comprehensive information portal providing answers to questions on education, financing education, career development, government, military service, travel, community service, and more.
  • US Department of State's Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities
  • The Work Site - Information for Youth with Disabilities from the Social Security Administration
  • Youth at Work, a website created by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC to help all youth learn what their rights are in the workplace, what constitutes employment discrimination, and what to do if discrimination has occurred
  • Youth Corner - information for youth from the US Department of Labor
  • Youth Jobs (Canada)
  • Zigawhat! a web site with links to numerous Internet sites for teens with disabilities maintained by the National Dissemination Center for Youth with Disabilities

Job Postings & Job Banks

The sites below, many of which are targeted at persons with disabilities, list job openings in many different fields with employers that are located here in Minnesota and across the nation. Many of these employers are actively looking for employees with disabilities.

After looking at some of the resources on this page, you might consider sending your resume to an employer or setting up an appointment with a rehabilitation counselor. The road to a satisfying career may seem like a long and time-consuming process, but every journey begins with the first small step.

  • America's Job Bank - is the nation's largest database of job openings by individual state and occupation areas.
  • Careers & the disabled - A list of corporations and government agencies who are actively recruiting persons with disabilities.
  • Job Links - is a nationwide listing of employers who seek to recruit and hire qualified job candidates with disabilities for open positions in their organizations. Included in each entry is a link directly to the company's career opportunities and job listings.
  • JobAccess - A collaboration between CareerMosaic and Ability Magazine. Visitors to this site can browse job listings and post their resumes online.
  • Monster.Com - A general employment site that contains a broad array of job postings from across the nation.
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Work Avenue - Job listings from the newspaper's Sunday Employment section.
  • Minnesota Job Bank - An extensive listing of public and private sector jobs across Minnesota.
  • USA Jobs - A database of job openings in various branches of the federal government.

Vocational Service Agencies

The vocational services listed on this page are agencies that work with persons with disabilities to help them find jobs that match their individual interests and abilities. These agencies employ rehabilitation counselors and job coaches who have a great deal of experience in helping persons with disabilities assess their abilities and find appropriate job placements.

  • State Rehabilitation Services
    (
    www.deed.state.mn.us/rehab/) - This agency offers comprehensive vocational services to persons with disabilities. Services can include job training and placement, assistance with college tuition, and assistance with obtaining appropriate assistive technology.
  • State Services for the Blind
    (
    www.mnssb.org) - This agency provides vocational services to individuals with substantial visual impairments. The services offered by SSB are very similar to those offered by Rehabilitation Services.

International Career Development Opportunities

There is a whole world of opportunities open in the international affairs, development and exchange fields. This can include working in U.S. embassies overseas or the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. It can mean working in an international consulting firm, college or university study abroad office or international refugee organization either in the United States or abroad. Even in difficult economic climates, international affairs graduates can find exciting careers because of the strength and versatility of this type of degree. As the Association of Professional Schools in International Affairs 2002 graduates reported, 88% found work within six months after graduation, which is a competitive placement rate in comparison to professional degrees in law or business. The largest percentage of graduates (42%) found work in the public sector with about a quarter each working in the nonprofit and private sectors.

Many people go into international affairs, development or exchange fields to make a difference in the world or explore other cultural perspectives. Most have had international experiences that made an impact on their own life choices. Since positions are low to middle range salaries until one increases to consulting or senior level positions and responsibilities, they find motivations other than money to attract them to this field of work. International travel will entice some students to international careers, although travel opportunities will vary with positions. Some positions involve administrative, research or policy level work, while others may be doing direct assistance, marketing or advising.

If students can dedicate themselves to learning a foreign language through an international exchange program, it will open more doors for them and get their foot in the door. "The U.S. government alone requires 34,000 employees with foreign language skills, and American business increasingly needs internationally and multi-culturally experienced employees to compete in a global economy and to manage a culturally diverse workforce," reports the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange.

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/jobRes.htm

Natural Supports in the Workplace 

Natural supports in the workplace can be any assistance, relationships, or interactions that allow a person to work in a job of his or her choice in ways similar to other employees. Use of natural workplace supports allows consumers to direct their own careers and choose the type and amount of assistance they want to receive.

Natural supports are based on ordinary social relationships at work and in the community. They may occur spontaneously, although school or human service agency staff often facilitate natural support relationships. Examples of natural supports include co-workers who provide job training for the supported employee or mentoring relationships between the supported employee and others. An individual's family and friends or volunteers from the community can provide natural supports. Individuals providing natural supports may do so with or without compensation.

Although a natural supports approach makes the most of normal social relationships, job coaches or employment specialists may continue to play an ongoing role for many supported employees. They can play a variety of roles acting as consultants, trainers -- to either the supported employee or to individuals providing natural supports, advocates, evaluators, problem solvers, and job accommodations specialists.

Natural Supports Links

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/supports.htm

 

Post Secondary Education

Completion of a postsecondary degree has been linked to higher employment rates and higher income in the general population. At the same time, individuals with disabilities are less than half as likely to obtain a postsecondary degree, and thus are less likely to be employed or to have a similar income, as are individuals without disabilities.

Going to college today can mean attending a 4-year college or university, a 2-year community college, or a technical institute or trade school. It can mean working toward a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree (A.A.), or a certificate showing you've mastered the skills needed for a technical career. It can mean studying full-time or part-time, or living at school or commuting from home. It can even mean going to a community college to learn a new skill after you've gotten a degree and worked for a while.

Earning and learning go hand-in-hand. The more years of schooling you complete, the higher your income is likely to be -- and the less likely you are to be unemployed. A graphic image developed by Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY dramatically illustrates the relationship between years of education, employment rates, and income.

Post-Secondary Education Links:

PACER Resources:

Resources from other Organizations:

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/postSecondary.htm

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

Every state has a federally funded agency that administers vocational rehabilitation (VR), supported employment, and independent living services. Some states have separate vocational rehabilitation programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and a few states have separate programs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. State VR programs provide services that enable individuals with disabilities to pursue meaningful employment that corresponds with their abilities and interests.

Although VR is considered an adult service agency, VR counselors can join the transition team and attend Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning meetings before a student leaves high school. State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies offer important programs that can be of service to students with disabilities who may be leaving high school without employment skills, or who are already out of school and finding it difficult to find or keep a job without additional training.

VR counselors first assess a student's eligibility for VR services. Once it is determined that a young person is eligible to receive VR services, a counselor is assigned to work with them. Together, students and their counselors will develop an Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) that identifies needed VR services. Family members can participate in this process - although youth who have reached their state's legal age of adulthood must give their written permission for parents to be involved.

The services available through VR programs vary widely depending upon the state. They can include assessment to determine the extent of your son's or daughter's disability; vocational evaluation, counseling and guidance; referral to services from other agencies; vocational and other types of post-secondary education and training (including self-determination and self-advocacy training); interpreter and reader services; rehabilitation technology services and other job accommodations; placement in suitable employment; employer education on disability issues -- such as the ADA and job accommodations; post-employment services; services to family members; and other goods or services necessary to achieve rehabilitation objectives identified in the IPE.

Vocational Rehabilitation Links:

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/vr.htm

Supported employment is for persons

  • with the most severe disabilities,
  • who need intensive or ongoing job support,
  • who have traditionally been excluded from competitive work settings, or
  • whose work has been interrupted or intermittent because of their disabilities.

Supported employment is based on the principle that individuals with severe disabilities have the right to be employed by community businesses where they can earn comparable wages, work side-by-side with co-workers with or without disabilities, and experience all of the same benefits as other employees of the company. Supported employment assists individuals with severe disabilities by providing individualized supports that enable them to choose the kind of job they want and to become successful members of the workforce.

There are two aspects to providing supported employment services -- purchase of the service, and delivery of the service. For high school students, the school usually both buys and delivers supported employment services. In the adult system, the organizations that buy the services are different from the organizations that deliver the services. Adults should be able to choose the type of community and workplace supports that will help them maintain employment.

In the Minnesota adult service system there are two vocational rehabilitation organizations that buy supported employment services -- the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and State Services for the Blind (SSB). Organizations that deliver supported employment services help an individual find a job and stay employed. Organizations that deliver supported employment services include Day Training and Habilitation agencies (DT&H), Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP), and Community Support Programs (CSP).

Supported Employment Links:

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/supportEmp.htm

Social Security/Work Incentives/Ticket to Work
 
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program of the Social Security Administration. It provides monthly benefits to individuals with disabilities who have limited income and resources. SSI provides eligible individuals with a monthly check, and access to services such as food stamps and Medicaid. SSI can be a valuable resource to transition-aged students.

Work Incentives

Students who qualify to receive SSI benefits may also use the SSI program's work incentives. Work incentives allow students to have paid work experience during and after their secondary education experience. SSI work incentives available to transition-aged students include Earned and Unearned Income Disregards, Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), Impairment-Related Work Expense (IRWE), Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS), Blind Work Expense (BWE), and Property Essential to Self Support (PESS).

These incentives can be helpful in designing community-based, paid employment transition programs for students without decreasing the cash assistance benefits provided by the SSI program.

Information concerning the potential use of SSI work incentives can be incorporated within the transition IEP plan to help young people achieve meaningful employment outcomes. In doing so, special education personnel will need to assume responsibility for ensuring that SSI work incentives are discussed and potentially incorporated within students' IEPs.

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act

The Social Security Administration has found that many young people with disabilities entering the Supplementary Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) rolls are likely to remain on the program rolls for their entire lives. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, signed into law in 1999, was designed to help SSI beneficiaries who want to work to join the workforce without losing their Medicaid benefits.

The Ticket to Work program provides a "Ticket" to SSI and SSDI beneficiaries that they may use to obtain rehabilitation and employment services. Most adult beneficiaries between the ages of 18-65 will get a Ticket, including transition-aged youth 18 or older.

Service providers, called Employment Networks, work with Social Security and SSI beneficiaries to provide assistance designed to help with the transition to work. The Ticket Program is voluntary. People with disabilities who receive a Ticket are not required to work, but may choose to use their Ticket to attempt to work. Likewise, Employment Networks are not required to accept Tickets.

The Ticket to Work program is being phased in nationally over a three-year period; all states will be included by January 2004.

Social Security/Work Incentives/Ticket to Work Links:

Source: http://www.pacer.org/swift/socialSec.htm

SUPPORT GROUPS

 

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/autisticspectrumtreehouse

AutisticSpectrumTreeHouse

This is a place for all autistic spectrum adults (Asperger's Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism, PDD-NOS, et cetera) to say whatever is on their minds. There will be no censorship or moderation, but personal attacks are off-limits. This list/group is for people on the spectrum only, not for normal parents of autistic children.


** IMPORTANT **
If you would like to join this group, follow the link "Join this group," and then send an email to AutisticSpectrumTreeHouse-owner@yahoogroups.com and let me know you are on the spectrum. If you just follow the link and don't send the mail, it can take me several weeks before I get around to sending a mail to you. Thanks!

 

 

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AS-PEOPLE

AS People

This is an ADULT list (over 18 please) of Autistic Spectrum (Asperger Syndrome, Autism, PDD, PDD-NOS, etc.) people connecting with each other. A list for AS adults and friends, those affected by the autism spectrum and those who love them, for the free exchange of ideas, and information sharing.  Feel free to express yourself. This group is about caring and support, and being there for each other. Open hostility, aggression and attack on any other member will not be tolerated. Additionally we sometimes talk about sexuality and intmacy issues, feel free to bring up any issues bothering you. Look forward to seeing you soon !!

AS-PEOPLE-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

 

 

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AS-and-Proud-of-it/?yguid=171933824

AS-and-Proud-of-it 

This is a list for people on the Autism Spectrum (Asperger's Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, PDD, PDD-NOS, etc) or their families/friends. This list is to encourage us to look for the positives in our situations, learn as much as we can above all SUPPORT one another through difficult times. NO personal attacks (name-calling, etc) will be tolerated!

AS-and-Proud-of-it-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

 

 

http://www.faaas.org/ - FAAAS - Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome 
A support group that is aimed at the families of those afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome. Especially those whose relative has not been correctly diagnosed until they are well into adulthood.

 

Centers for Independent Living Web Sites
This site includes information and links for independent living for every state in the US and several other countries.

Independent Living: disability resources and services
From the site: "Website of the Institute on Independent Living. We serve self-help organizations of disabled people who work for equal opportunities, self-determination and self-respect. We offer training materials, technical assistance and information on personal assistance, advocacy, access, legislation and peer support."

Independent Living Centers
From the site: "Independent Living Centers are typically non-residential, private, non-profit, consumer-controlled, community-based organizations providing services and advocacy by and for persons with all types of disabilities. Their goal is to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential within their families and communities." This site includes a long list of independent living centers from every state in the US and also many other countries.

 






Transition Research Institute at Illinois (TRI)
 
  • Improve school-to-work and transition outcomes for students with disabilities.
  • Find out about transition activities on a national level.
  • Contact transition and school-to-work experts (...and more!)

Contact Info: 

College of Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
113 Children's Research Center
51 Gerty Drive
Champaign, IL 61820
(217) 333-2325
(217) 244-0851 FAX

Source url: http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/SPED/tri/institute.html

**************************************

Medical Tax Deductions:
IRS Toll-Free Number: 800 829-3676
 
The IRS puts out many publications providing information on medical care costs for children and dependent care specifying what annual tax deductions you may qualify for your child with autism or other disabilities. Relatives and non-relative caregivers i.e. grandparents, aunts and foster parents
may also qualify for tax benefits.
 
The IRS has ruled that tuition costs for a special school that has a program designed to educate children with learning disabilities and amounts paid for a child's tutoring by a teacher specially trained and qualified to deal with severe learning disabilities may also be deducted. Special instruction or training or therapy, such as sign language also would be deductible. Related books and materials can qualify for the medical expense deduction.
 
Generally to qualify for the deduction, the child's doctor must recommend the special school, therapy, or tutoring, and there must be a medical diagnosis made by a medical professional. Transportation expenses to the special school or to the tutor also qualify for a medical expense deduction. Diagnostic evaluations also qualify for a medical expense deduction. This can include testing by a psychologist, neurologist, or other person with professional qualifications.
 
Parents who attend conferences to obtain medical information concerning treatment for and care of their child may deduct some of the costs of attending a medical conference relating to a dependent's chronic health condition.
 
Medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they exceed 7.5 percent of an individual's adjusted gross income, and that limitation applies to this deduction as well.
 
The Child and Dependent Care Credit is allowed for work related expenses incurred for dependents of the taxpayer. Generallt the dependent must be under the age of 13. However, if the child has a disability and requires supervision, the age limit is waived.
 
Also, in some cases, a non-custodial parent providing the majority of support for a child with a severe learning disability, and also pays for medical/educational expenses related to the child's learning disability, may likewise qualify for both the exemption and medical expense deductions.
 
IRS Publication 503: Child and Dependent Care Expenses
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p503.pdf
 
IRS Publication 17: Your Federal Income Tax (Comprehensive Tax Guide)
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p17.pdf
 
IRS Publication 501: Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information
 
IRS Publication 502: Medical and Dental Expenses
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p502/
 
For List of items you can or cannot include in figuring your medical expense deductions per Pub.
 
IRS Publication 596: Earned Income Tax Credit
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p596.pdf

________________________________________
Social Security Benefits
Apply for Benefits Via Telephone

You may apply for Social Security Benefits directly over the Telephone at: 1-800-772-1213 or
1-800-325-0778 (TTY only)
 
You can apply for benefits (SSI and SSD) over the phone during a telephone appointment with a Social Security representative. Just call the Social Security Administration at their toll-free nationwide  number: (800) 772-1213 to arrange it. Tell the rep you're unable to come to the office and would like to
schedule an application appointment over the phone. Reps normally don't ask why, but should one ask why... just say my child has a neurobehavioral disability -- enough said! An appointment date and time will be scheduled during this call, with a written confirmation sent to you in the mail. A rep from
SSA will contact you at the designated time/date to take the application.
 
Some important information you'll need handy is family's annual income earnings, social security numbers, your child's diagnosis information and how their disability affects their daily life.
 
During any discussions about diagnosis, be sure to convey how dependent they are due to deficits in Self-Care Skills (bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, meal prep), Severe Behavior Problems (if any, and their frequency), Medical Conditions (i.e. ADHD, epilepsy, enterocolitis, etc). Also any medical conditions which may/may not require daily individualized attention from health care staff and treatments (i.e. IVIg, or daily injections).
 
State or describe the individual's Adaptive behaviors (i.e. communication, some/no expressive or receptive language), Learning (particularly if IQ 75 or lower), Mobility Skills (even if ambulatory - if person needs assistance/training to increase capacity for moving about), Capacity for Independent Living (i.e. s/he is completely dependent for all household activities); Self-Direction (person demonstrates daily/weekly or monthly misbehaviors requiring individualized programming, i.e. home program or special education school), and whether individual is dependent on others for management of their personal affairs within the general community.
 
These categories are not specific to applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, and may be used to establish level of care for individuals with disabilities. Think of your loved one's deficits in these areas (and more if applies), then write them down. Focus on their needs and challenges whenever applying for Social Security and other services.
 
Once this information is written down it may be used time and time again, updating as needed.The application appointment takes anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Social Security
Administration will then send you a letter stating whether your disability claim has been accepted or denied.
 
You may request a Hearing should you disagree with their findings. Be sure to keep this letter in a safe place. Some states require a Social Security denial letter during the process of applying for a state medicaid waiver. Social Security benefits are usually awarded from the date of the first application. In some instances, benefits may also be calculated from the date disability first began.

Social Security Resources:
Social Security Benefits For Children With Disabilities - Electronic Booklet
SSA Publication No. 05-10026, August 2001
ICN 455360
http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10026.html
 
This booklet is written primarily for the parents and caregivers of children with disabilities and adults disabled since childhood. It illustrates the kinds of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits a child with a disability might be eligible for and explains how we evaluate disability claims for children.
 
Social Security Benefits For People With Disabilities
http://www.ssa.gov/disability/
 
The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.