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RVS partnership helps transition students with autism spectrum disorder

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 12:38 pm

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Rocky View Schools (RVS) is offering students and parents of students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) the opportunity to participate in a transition-planning program that will help transition students to adulthood and the community beyond high school.

“We need to help kids transition from one class to another and, when they are finished with us, into adulthood,” said RVS Lead Psychologist Chris Pawluk.

The Launch Program is a partnership between RVS and the Ability Hub, a 17,000-square-foot facility located at the University of Calgary that aims to improve the quality of life and level of independence of adolescents and adults with ASD.

Pawluk said parents of students with ASD can be caught off guard when their child leaves school and is faced with challenges such as identifying vocational skills and determining guardianship and who has legal and financial decision-making authority.

“If transitioning starts when a child is 18, it’s a little bit too late,” Pawluk said, adding the Launch program is aimed at students ages 13 and older.

The Launch Program is a study that provides concrete ways to develop a realistic transition plan for students. Participants will receive a transition guide, which they will be asked to evaluate as part of the study.

“It helps with those bits that schools wouldn’t necessarily be thinking about,” Pawluk said of the program.

The transition plan process consists of uncovering, developing and documenting the skills, challenges, goals and tasks that will be important for students when they enter the adult world, according to the Ability Hub.

The program utilizes the expertise of the launch clinical team, consisting of a group of mental health experts and medical professionals, to assess and understand student’s individual skills and abilities, determine career and vocational opportunities the student would most enjoy and find success in, and help define the amount of assistance needed.

Pawluk said though RVS doesn’t collect statistical information specifically on ASD students in the division, he believes there are about 65 students in RVS that would be suitable for the launch program, which he said is, “not out of line in terms of population.”

RVS is inviting parents of students with ASD to participate in the Launch Program and study and encourages interested parents to contact Angela Bardick, a member of the Launch clinical team, at 403-210-5000.

The Launch Program identifies where a student currently is in terms of health, well-being, education, employment, communication and social relationships, along with legal and financial issues and independent living skills.

Once the current status of the student is determined, the clinical team works with parents to develop an Individualized Transition Plan that outlines goals, skills and development needs. They then assist with monitoring goals and identifying support agencies to help meet these goals.

For more information on Ability Hub and the Launch Program, visit www.theabilityhub.org and click on Launch Program located under the Program tab.


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