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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

More Transition Services from NESCA: Community-Based Skills, College Selection and Pre-College Coaching


By Kelley Challen, Ed.M, CAS
Director of Transition Services

November 24, 2014

Announcing a range of new services, and in Marilyn Weber, an important addition to our transition team...

Community-Based Skills Coaching

Community-Based Skills Coaching is a time-limited, intensive service focused on developing essential adaptive and practical independent living skills in real-life environments. This is critical for individuals needing to generalize skills taught in the classroom and/or who learn best experientially.

This type of skills coaching is suitable for any student seeking experience outside the walls of a high school environment and also may be an important component for an individual taking part in a fifth year, postgraduate or gap year experience.

Individuals participate in one-on-one Community-Based Skills Coaching three hours per week for eight weeks, focused on specific individualized goals in three areas: continued learning, vocation, and community life.

Skill development may include executive functioning, interpersonal skills, self-advocacy, self-care/hygiene, meal planning and preparation, money management, shopping, travel training, engaging in volunteer and community service work, establishing healthy fitness routines, nutrition, and other skill areas critical for successful independent adult life.

Specific short-term goals are set by the client and coach in collaboration with family members prior to the first coaching session. Overall well-being and familiarity with community resources are a focus for every participant.

Moreover, our coaches will work collaboratively with agency representatives and accompany clients to meetings with them as appropriate, on behalf of eligible individuals who will be receiving ongoing support from adult human service agencies such as the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and/or the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

Community-Based Pre-College Coaching

NESCA is pleased to offer Community-Based Pre-College Coaching packages carefully designed to help students develop concrete skills and knowledge critical for managing the transition from high school to college. Designed to meet the needs of a student intending to participate in a postsecondary two- or four-year college program, each package offers focused skill development based on the client’s current participation with their college process.

Individuals participate in Pre-College Coaching during four two-hour sessions and focus on skill development in one of the following key skill development areas:
  • College Aware – Students participating in this package learn about the variety of colleges available in postsecondary life and how college participation differs from high school. Familiarity with college resources, websites, facilities, vocabulary and schedules are key outcomes for participants.
  • College Search – Students taking part in this service develop key skills required for engaging in the college search process. Basic skills like using search engines and reviewing print resources are introduced. Additional college search strategies including making the most of a college tour, talking with disability support staff, interview skills, personal disclosure and sitting in on a class or arranging an overnight are explored and practiced.
  • College Ready – The College Ready package is designed to support critical skill development required to successfully transition to college life. Based on individual student needs, skill development in fundamental areas including organization, problem solving, campus etiquette, self-advocacy, personal money management, self-care, emotional health/wellness, leisure activities, travel skills, and phone and email etiquette may be addressed. Target skills will be selected in consultation with the student and family. While this service is similar to NESCA’s Community-Based Skills Coaching service, the process is abbreviated, focusing specifically on skill development necessary for the college environment.
  • College Accepted – After being accepted to college, students are ready to work on nuanced skills specific to being a thriving college student. Skill development focuses on a selected college program and an individual student’s needs related to that environment. Targeted skills may include practice registration, purchasing textbooks and supplies, completing necessary paperwork and meeting with college support professionals, having a roommate, learning to use campus resources and personal safety.

Each Pre-College Coaching session takes place in local community settings including at least one local college tour. For families needing support with College Selection, NESCA offers a short-term service designed to prepare a student and family to select an appropriate college environment; when appropriate, College Selection also occurs as part of Transition Planning and Consultation.

College Selection Consultation

Searching for a suitable post-secondary setting that affords opportunity for success is a difficult process for students with learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders. Through short-term consultation, NESCA’s transition specialists support students (and their families) in the development of a college planning timeline, creation of college lists, learning how to explore a college online, planning college visits, researching support services and more.

Importantly, transition specialists are able to visit colleges with students to help them get the most from their experience, reality-test “fit,” and investigate beyond the official presentation. While NESCA does not provide ongoing college counseling, consultation with a transition specialist is an ideal way to start the college selection process.

How Do I Get Started?

Prior to participation in Community-Based Skills Coaching or Pre-College Coaching, a one-hour intake evaluation with parent(s), the individual, and the coach is required to determine appropriateness for the service and specific goals. The fee for the intake is $250.

Families interested in scheduling should complete the Intake Fact Sheet available on-line at www.nesca-newton.com. In cases where an individual is not a fit for the desired service, referrals to appropriate community providers will be provided.

What is the Cost?

Community-Based Skills Coaching is charged at a flat rate of $3000 and includes eight three-hour coaching sessions.

Community-Based Pre-College Coaching is charged at a flat rate of $1250 and includes four two-hour coaching sessions.

For each program, progress is monitored closely and continually throughout participation and weekly overview emails are provided to the client and family.

Written program summaries are available for an additional fee.

NESCA is happy to negotiate contracts with public schools willing to participate in the cost of coaching as part of an individual education plan.

Who provides coaching at NESCA?

Marilyn Webber, Transition Specialist - NESCA is pleased to welcome Marilyn Weber, a seasoned transition advocate working with adolescents and young adults. Ms. Weber joined NESCA in Fall, 2014 in order to offer Community-Based Skills Coaching services as well as short-term consultation to families and professionals.

Ms. Weber brings decades of experience working in schools and community agencies as a job developer, job coach, work study coordinator, school to careers coordinator, transition coordinator, parent and professional trainer, and Parent Consultant. She received her advocacy training through The Federation of Children with Special Needs (FCSN), Wrightslaw and OSEP/COPAA’s SEAT program with a practicum at FCSN.

Ms. Weber was the Partnership Director for DRYVE, a youth career center funded by the Workforce Initiative Act. She is a member of Massachusetts Advocates for Children Autism Advisory Committee and Transition Coordinator Subcommittee which recently passed “An Act Relative to Students with Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education, Employment and Independent Living.” She is the proud mother of a young adult with Autism.

Sandy Storer, MSW, Transition Specialist - Social Worker and LEND Fellow Sandy Storer, MSW provides community-based pre-college coaching and college selection services at NESCA. In her 2008-2009 LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) Fellowship at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center of the University of Mass. Medical School, Ms. Storer conducted an in-depth investigation of the issues that impact students with Asperger’s Syndrome in the transition to post-secondary education, and beyond.

Ms. Storer holds degrees from Northwestern and Boston Universities, and received additional, intensive training in family systems therapy and family therapy at The Family Institute of Cambridge. She has practiced privately as a counselor, coach and consultant for middle and high-school students with Asperger's Syndrome, autism, non-verbal learning disability and related disorders, and has extensive experience in public and private school settings, including 12 years as school social worker at Clarke Middle School in Lexington, MA, where she specialized in helping students with autism spectrum and related disorders.

She also worked in Disability Support Services at Northeastern University, and taught family therapy at MetroWest Mental Health Association, Framingham, MA, where she treated families and individual clients.

Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS, Director of Transition Services - Community-Based Skills Coaching and Pre-College Coaching at NESCA are overseen by Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS, Director of Transition Services. 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. Initially trained as a school guidance counselor, she completed her practicum work at Boston Latin School focusing on competitive college counseling. She began facilitating social, life, and career skill development programs for transition-aged youth in 2004.

Prior to joining NESCA, Ms. Challen founded an array of programs for teens and young adults at MGH Aspire, and spent time as Program Director of the Northeast Arc's Spotlight Program, where she often collaborated with schools to develop in-district social skill and transition programming. She is also co-author of the chapter "Technologies to Support Interventions for Social-Emotional Intelligence, Self-Awareness, Personal Style, and Self-Regulation" for the book Technology Tools for Students with Autism.

While Ms. Challen has special expertise in working with students with Asperger's Syndrome and related profiles, she provides transition assessment, consultation, planning, and programming support for individuals with a wide range of learning and developmental needs.

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