Why Paid Work Experience is Important to Students with Disabilities

Why Paid Work Experience is Important to Students with Disabilities

October 13, 2022

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Join us for an enlightening discussion with Mary Hartley, Executive Director of the PEAL Center, as we shed light on the importance of paid work experience for students with disabilities.

With us this evening is Mary Hartley from the PEAL Center. Mary is a parent. But she is also the executive director of the PEAL Center.

So Mary, I will go ahead and turn it over to you. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it. And the floor is yours.

Well, thank you. I'm really happy to be here, Melissa. And to everyone who's joined us tonight, I am a parent, and I actually got my professional start at Achieva, the Arc of Greater Pittsburgh. 16 years ago, as a professional, but I got that job because I was on the local task force on the right to education.

So I am a parent advocate. I come from this world. And I'm so glad you're all here tonight. You are my people. And hopefully, we can get through transition together.

My son is actually 22 years old now. He's a young man on the autism spectrum. And he is working at living his best life. It's been a real challenge. I'm not going to lie with over seven years of work. My personal professional job being transitioned.

And then, him, graduating literally in the middle of COVID. At the beginning of COVID, it's been a dramatic challenge to actually make a seamless transition. But hopefully from here on out, the rest of you who are following mine are going to have no problems. No, I'm just kidding. There might be issues.

So but tonight we're going to talk about largely, why paid work experience is important to students with disabilities? And I'm going to talk a lot about parenting and working with young adults on the spectrum with disabilities because that's what I know.

And we do offer a lot of other services and supports at PEAL and I'll talk a little bit about that as well. So let me see. Hopefully, I can advance my slides. There we go.

So if you're not familiar with the PEAL Center, I hope you all are. And I can't see any head nods from here so I don't know if I'm getting them. But the mission of the PEAL Center is to educate and empower families to ensure that children, youth, and young adults with disabilities and special health care needs, lead rich active lives as full members of their school and community. And I think you may know this, but we are the state wide, federally funded, education and health care, training and Information Center for Pennsylvania.

So we do that largely for parents but we also have a really strong youth team and a lot of work going on. So I want to share that as well.

Mary, it's in advance your slide on myself.

Oh, it's not.

It's still on the first slide, I don't know why.

Well, that's a bummer. Thank you.

There we go.

You're welcome. Sorry. Thank you Melissa.

No problem.

So just a little bit about transition work at the PEAL Center. We focus on transition. This is a really important time in a person's life, a young person's life.

Transition to adulthood is one of the more complex things you'll ever be involved in as your young adult is graduating even after they graduate. Because it has so many different moving parts and so many systems.

So we have two major projects at the PEAL Center specifically centered on transition. One is called 21and able. It used to be just out of Allegheny County in the surrounding counties. And now we're doing this statewide.

We actually have an agenda of about six trainings coming up over the year. And then we have about six family centered conversations, youth and parents, where you can talk about housing and new ideas and challenges. We'll probably be inviting somebody from achiever for that one.

As a matter of fact, for a panel, we have things on avoiding guardianship. And we have things on certainly employment and friendships and social life after school. There are a lot of issues that come up that are very unique in transition.

So we'll talk about that this year and provide a lot of resources and information. We also have another project and we're actually working very closely. These two projects are working very closely together this year called Transition Discoveries. And this is statewide, these links will be available to you. Melissa can share this with everybody after the session.

And Transition Discoveries is the website. It's at the state. The state actually has purchased to use this website so they're going to have a sort of an Educator Portal and they have a student and parent portal.

And so there's a lot of really good information and resources in here. Lots of videos, testimonials, experiences. And you can learn also more about that 21enables doing its first session on Transition Discoveries and how to use the website. To find out your wants and wishes and desires for the future, what you want to be when you grow up, that kind of thing. So we'll be talking more about that.

But next slide. Thanks. So we also have this youth team. And what we do is we go to your area wherever you are in the state. And this for you guys in the Western part of the state, we've been up to Erie, we've been as far North as Erie.

And we go and we do youth empowerment trainings and leadership academies. And we can even work with individual youth so you know how teachers are always saying things like.

Your hopefully, they're saying to you, your young adult should be part of the IEP meeting. They should lead the IEP meeting. Well, if they don't know what that is or how to do that, we can work with them on that. We can work with them on their ideas and what they want to bring to the IEP, but also what they want to do in adulthood.

And this team is great. They're actually, they're pretty young people themselves. Most of them are out of college or still in college. And they're just really cool hip group of people, and wonderful, and have a lot of personal experience. So I think you're going to get a lot of value, your youth will get a lot of value out of working with them.

And we also do free parent training. So if you can gather a group of 25 or more. And that means sort of like, maybe, you get a couple groups together, your local task force, your Arc group. If you can get that many, that's great. We would like to try to do trainings like that.

I recognize in transition you may not get as many of those folks in one area, but your school, your people at your school, we can actually teach you how to write IEP goals.

And so we have trainings that are specific to that for transition. So feel free to do that with us and you can connect with us on Facebook. We have a lot of different types of trainings that come up. And then we can always can look at our calendar on our website and stuff and that's later.

So next slide.

So what we're going to talk about today is a Seamless Transition. I mean, that's the dream, right? Your young adult leaves high school and they know exactly what they're going to do. That they're going to have all the supports and services they need. If they need them, they're going to go on to post-secondary college or training or supports and employment and have a social life.

And all of the things you would want for them and then maybe eventually some independent or interdependent, housing and life, that's what we all, that's what I want for my son. And so that's what we all want.

And then I'm going to talk about the proof. Why paid work experience is so important for students with disabilities? I think you're going to be surprised by the results that I'm going to share with you. There's some brand, new data, that just came out to this week actually in a National Journal and how inclusion increases chances for employment and increases inclusion in adulthood.

So starting out young, if your kids were included. The more they're included, the better, the better, the better. Even if it's inclusion in community activities. It's so important for their outcomes in adulthood.

And then parents about letting go, I'm trying to learn this too. This is a very challenging thing. I've had to work really hard at it. I know many of us do. And what you can do now to let go.

And we're going to talk just a little bit about independent and supported transportation, volunteerism, work based learning, and real jobs.

Next slide.

So this is like our mantra at our family. High expectations, planning, practice. It's a constant, constant, constant thing in our family.

My son has given me permission to speak about him today. I always ask. He's fine with me saying these things. But just to be clear, it's a lot of learning new skills and then learning them in sections and then learning them again and again in different ways. So for instance right now, we're doing.

There's a lot of getting ready for the day that is not similar to what it was like when he was in high school. And it's a little more challenging because it's not the same routine every single day. So we're kind of trying to work on just because it's not the same routine there are things that you still have to do every day in the morning to get ready for instance.

So next slide.

So students with disabilities can often get there. You can get to those goals but you just might need a longer runway or accommodations. And when I mean a longer runway, I mean, this shouldn't start at 14, which is when the state starts transition. This should start in early when children are little.

And you learn these sort of skills over time. And many of you I'm sure you're such terrific advocates. I'm sure you've been working on different skills with your kids and having them become more and more independent. It's just so important to practice the process of letting go of the outcomes and that's really part of what I want to talk about today.

Next slide.

So we talk about a person centered transition. We want to make sure that we're building person centered experiences. I know there are some programs where people will support you in a person centered plan. But just as a basic concept even if you can't get that right away or you're not sort of there.

One of the things I've done several times is I've gone to families' houses and they've had a big pizza party. And they invite friends, families, favorite teachers, favorite wraparound services, favorite doctor, whoever that hurt that young adult really loves and loves them. And they have this great pizza party and they talk about thinking about the future like without them sort of necessarily. Influencing the conversation right away maybe the first activity would be what do you think they're really good at right.

And so have them write down all the great things that they're really good at what. You think they'd like to do. And they chime in and they say, no, I don't like that. I want to do this. I do want to do this and a lot of young adults would just take over the whole thing and that's fantastic too.

And then the other idea is to plan an offsite IEP meeting just for transition or just schedule a separate meeting, and just say I'm sorry. We're not going to do the whole IEP. We're just going to do the IEP section, the IEP section, sorry, the transition section of the IEP.

And you just want to talk about those goals and education, employment, and community. Yes, they do relate to educational goals, no question. However, you need time just to have your young adult be able to say what they want. And it's really, really hard to get that time.

One of my colleagues and this is done often and I think very well. Has a terrific video of her daughter with Down syndrome who happens to have Down syndrome talking about her interests and desires for the future and the things that she wants. And that's what she brings to the IEP because she doesn't always talk at the IEP meeting. So that's a really great way to capture somebody when they're in sort of their comfort zone and they're really interested in talking about those things to have them do that.

Next slide.

And I don't know if there's a lot of head nods here. So again it's really hard to see you, but I can't see you. But I think most people are familiar with customized employment but I'll just give you just a brief little bit about it.

So customized employment is basically just a custom job. There are a lot of jobs out there. We all have those jobs. You must carry 50 pounds, you must do this, you must do this, and sort of these descriptions. Well, maybe there's a job that you must carry 50 pounds and you must load things onto the truck. But you don't have to do all of the parts, you don't have to fill out. The docket at the end of the day, you don't have to do the computer skills, you don't have to but you like doing heavy lifting, and that could be a good job for you.

And so what you're doing is designing a job specifically for that person. And to be honest with you, what we've learned through a lot of research. Walgreens has done a lot of work in customized employment within their company. Other companies have done this. They found that people are happier because they get to make the choices about the parts of the job they'd like to do now.

You might work in an office. I've worked in many offices like this where everybody had the same job but two people were really good at this part and three people were really good at that part. That happens all the time in business.

So customized employment is really about finding those things oftentimes. But to get like you get the filing it just gets stacked up and stacked up and stacked up and nobody's doing it. And you need someone to come in and do that. Three times a week for two hours, that could be the customized job, if it's appropriate for your son or daughter. So just this is really important Achieva does this very well. And they actually model this in a lot of programs in the work so.

So discovery is the process that the arc has and they can take your son or daughter through a process to learn what their skills and interests are. What kind of environments they work really well in and they can share more about that.

Next slide.

So this is my number one advice to all parents. How did you get your first job? Most people got their first job because they knew someone. You don't usually get a job because you went through indeed.com. I mean, it's not an easy way to get a job and most people gave you a chance.

And then like my dad used to say. My dad said to me, I'll get you the job, Mary you just have to keep it. That's how most people get a job. I have had this over.

Note I shouldn't talk out of turn because it's being recorded. However, I've been told that my son has to go find a job and it's because it's prescribed in his plan that he has to go find the job. He's not having a lot of luck doing that. He needs to get a job. Somebody needs to show him how to do the job and then he has to keep the job that's really how his is going to work because it will be very rarely that he'll be going out and looking for a job that's not his job.

His job isn't to look for a job. His job is to have a job, right? And so I'm not going to spend a lot of. I'm not. We're not going to spend any more time doing that that's a waste of time.

So my preference would be, they get him a job and he has to keep it. He can do the interviewing and things like that but we should have relationships. Enough that he could make those connections. They could make those connections for him because he has a lot of barriers to employment.

People may not immediately take. Look at him and say, Oh, he's completely employable. He is completely employable but they have to start him out by trying him out on the job next time. So I talked about this a little bit youth inclusion leads to adult inclusion.

Next slide.

You can do the next slide, Melissa, I'm sorry, I probably should put this back earlier. But there's a lot of data on this. This is becoming even more interesting as time goes on because I've been kind of employed and involved in this employment thing for nine years now total.

But in fact, it shows that inclusive education has positive short-term and long-term effects for all students. Kids who are included in class are absent less often, they develop stronger skills in reading and math. They're also more likely to have jobs and pursue education after high school. It's just a fact. Students who work before they leave high school.

This is a quote that we got from Eric Carter. At Vanderbilt University are 2.5 times more likely to work after high school. And he did a study with kids with really significant developmental disabilities.

But this last study is really, really interesting. And this is the one I was talking about earlier. This is by the raise project. It's a National Youth transition project.

The race project did this huge study thousands of kids and they asked about transition experiences, especially paid work. They are more strongly associated with post school satisfaction and positive outcomes than transition content learned or transition supports provided. And I'm going to show a slide next.

But what I want to say about this is that the conversation that I heard is that kids with disabilities who work before they leave high school are five times more likely to work after high school based on this survey. That's huge. That's really a good outcome but it's also leads to happier lives. So look at the next slide.

So you'll see here this is about post-transition activities and the outcomes what the most successful transition is paid work. Paid work, that's it. So especially taking advantage of opportunities in OVR and in our school districts is where we want to start.

Next slide.

So when we say seamless transition, we talk about the last day of school is the first day of adulthood. You want those things to kind of connect up. There's more and more that you can do. I saw Amy Guthrie came on. There's more and more that you can do. And the other advocates to support families to make sure they're getting waiver connections before they leave high school but also over connections and also this paid work experience.

So you kind of at the beginning. You don't want the school to have the child just do a job at the school. I'm OK with it a little bit, but not unless there's lots of other kids doing that job, not just kids with disabilities. I'm just going to say it.

The coffee shop idea is fine for a first try, but it shouldn't be the job. There should be a paid job. If you're training in a coffee shop, you should work in a coffee shop. That's where you're really going to get your experience. It's more real there. You're going to have more real experiences.

So you use schools in exploration of real jobs the IEP contains annual goal that ensures your son or daughter is exposed to the jobs you can put in job shadowing internship part time jobs that they are most interested in. Summer nights and weekends are definitely where you want to go, like all kids I mean.

When I do a presentation with a group and I'm in person, I always say how many of you had a job when you were in high school? And they all raise their hands, right? Everybody because that's what you do. That's how you get experience. That's how you move on in life.

So you want to make sure that there's something that might actually could potentially work into a job after high school. Maybe it won't. Maybe it'll be a job working at a fast food restaurant or the summer snack bar or the local. What we would call?

What we have here like a Kennywood or a park up in by Lake Erie? You might do that in the summertime and that's a great experience too. But you also want to start thinking about the real opportunities that could be out there.

So in vocational rehabilitation or OVR in Pennsylvania, we have something called pre-employment transition services, right?

One of those is there are five different ones and that's great. And they have prescriptive ideas about how to do those. But I'm going to suggest and you'll see in this later.

A way that you can really get started with employment these five services include work experience no question. But we'll add to that and what they're going to be doing because of OVR can do a lot to support kids with those services. But again, you want to start moving in the right direction to where you're actually an over customer before you leave high school.

Next slide.

So you want to get all your ducks in a row. This is Pittsburgh.

Next slide.

So sign up for OVR. And my recommendation is a lot of people will wait for the school to do it and get school connections. Don't do that just go right to their website and sign up for your district office. You can they suggest, you do it two years before the end of your graduation date. It says even on their website.

You can also do it sooner. And I know plenty of kids intellectual disabilities and autism who have done three jobs. Paid jobs before they left high school. It's just a really good way to build capacity, build your resume, try different things, and also build self esteem.

And of course, if you need a waiver, intellectual disability waiver, an autism waiver, they're calling it different things in different counties now. Do sign up for that sooner rather than later.

Next slide.

So I always say transition starts way before 14 and I kind of alluded to this earlier. But why don't we ask our kids with disabilities? What do you want to be when you grow up? It's really an issue. And you have to keep doing it like with all your kids.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be an astronaut. All kids want to be an astronaut. So what is there about being an astronaut that's interesting to you?

You could dig further and you could find out. They like space or they like flying or they like wearing a suit with a helmet or they like. There are all different kinds of things that might be a reason why they like that job. They might also really just want to go to the moon. And hey, I do too. And maybe someday we all will.

But there might be a job. There might be a job in a laboratory or something that would attract them an airport working with planes. Working with there are so many interesting jobs out there that have a lot to do with Aeronautics. So the opportunities might be there but you have to start that exploration early.

Next slide. And if that didn't happen before 14, it's never too late to start even in adulthood. It's great to start asking really good questions about employment and employment is so important.

Next slide. And we can do a lot of home at home and I do. I did talk to Jack about this again to remind him what I was going to talk about tonight.

So next slide.

So all I can say is, I think travel training is one of the best precursors for employment because it really develops independence. I don't know about your children. My son is really, as a young child, had a hard time calming himself down and crossing streets safely even just being near the street for a long, long time. We had a real hard time.

So we had to work very closely with him to develop the ability for him to walk across the street and it took-- I'm going to say it took five years. But first we were holding on with your life because we didn't want him to run into the street.

He was stimming and he wasn't paying attention. And then gradually, we would walk in front of him and he would follow us. Then we'd walk behind him, and watch him. Then we would go a block away, then we would go. Find something you want to find in the store.

Then we get on the bus, the city bus in Pittsburgh. And we go to the movies. Just all of us. We had a car but we go to the movies on the bus so that he we could watch him go up on the bus. Say hi to the bus driver and go to the back, find a seat. Sit by himself. Just develop these kinds of independent skills.

And then going downtown and trying all these different routes out. Then I will say, my husband woke up one night one day from a nap. We were both taking a nap. I think we were on vacation. And he said, "I had the most fabulous dream."

He said, "Me, you, and Jack went downtown on the bus and we stopped at 31st Street." And Jack got up, pulled the little cord and said, "Bye guys. See you later. Going home." And he got off the bus and he went across the bridge to his home. That was he woke up thinking this.

Now this was at a time Jack wasn't doing this. But we were our expectations were high for him always, right?

Sometimes we got scared and things happened. But we really wanted him. And we wanted him to believe that, but we needed to believe that too.

And Bob said that and I looked at him and Jack was probably about seven. And I said, did you train that? Oh, that's so amazing. Wouldn't that be amazing? You know my son takes the bus everywhere independently today.

He goes on different buses. New buses, sometimes. I mean, mostly we go with him the first two times. One, two times, but he's taking buses. Now he just goes on the bus.

So the dream happened and he would have made it happen without us. But I'm just saying, it's this concept of how it took a really long time to get there but we really believed in him.

But we worked with a mobile therapist. And in a friend's, would walk down the street with him, and then he would walk through the neighborhood independently. He'd walk home from we had a little business little store, he would walk home from the store, and he'd take the bus with other family members and friends. And then the school funded travel training.

Now I applied for I got to put this in his IEP in ninth grade, and I don't think he got it to the end of 10th grade. But all the other kids were taking the bus to school independently in high school in our city buses. And so he needed the bus to go to school and also we needed him to have travel training.

So they did the travel training and it was fabulous. It is the classic letting go experience. They kind of work with you kind of closely at first and then they're like that's OK, we're following the bus now he's fine. He's getting on and off at the right places.

But we would have one or two incidences that what happened, he'd fall asleep on the bus or he got off at the wrong place, and I would panic. And I would go into this mode of like, I didn't say it to him but I'm like you're never taking the bus again, you know, I just get so afraid.

And then I'd let go of that. Like immediately, like stop it mom, stop it. And take him and he would do it independently next time and he was fine. So it's really, really my work of letting go.

So now we're not quite at driving yet, but he is directionally figuring things out a little bit more. And as soon as he can do some things to kind of focus a little more, we could think about driving. Ride sharing is definitely a possibility using Ubers and Lifts.

Next slide.

And you guys, and Melissa tell me, if there are any head nods or anything, but does everybody have a finding way app on? Their kids have phones and do they have a finder on their phone? Like, I can find my kids wherever they are on my phone. That is really cool.

Kiefer, my son, is 11 so he doesn't have a phone yet. But I will definitely make sure that we do have. He has an iPad. So we have the Find My iPad or whatever it is. Apple.

This is the same thing that I use on our phone. My son doesn't go anywhere without his phone. Of course.

Nobody does.

Nobody does. But this is what I said to him when we did this first. I did it first with him, then with my younger daughter, his younger sister. And I said, the good thing about this is can find me too. I can find you, you can find me. We can find our whole family.

Sure. All right.

Don't call him and pester him 20 times because he's not home yet. I see that he's walking home from community college. I see that he's on the bus because I can see how fast it's moving, right? And I'm not a nag. It's the best thing in the world, and I don't freak out, right?


It is really awesome. And he won't go anywhere without his phone. You can't take this from him, right? And it's got everybody's got these controls now. It's not like people steal them anymore. It's such a game changer.

An Apple Watch will do the same thing. So if the person can't carry a phone, you can have an Apple Watch, right? And it also has all kinds of great gadgets for reminders, you can do visual schedules, you can do all kinds of cool things on these devices.

Next slide.

So this is my mantra. There is joy in repetition. This is we do a lot of this at our house.

But to be honest with you, I think, it's a really interesting process for all of us. For me, as a parent, the difference between my child with a developmental disability and the difference between my child who doesn't have one, is that, it's like there are layers to learning. We talk about peeling away the onion.

When you're talking about your feelings, learning about yourself. We're actually adding layers all the time. And so like I said, we're learning new things again and we're repeating them. So we have to learn these skills like shaving.

I think it's going to take a couple more years for my son to really learn how to shave. I just have to let go of that or we grow a beard, and that's like the next level, right?

He wants to be clean shaven, and it's going to take him a while to learn how to do that. So this is a process. I have to stop getting upset about that. But it's layers, layers, layers, layers.

So when he gets to maybe when he learns to drive maybe in a couple of years, it's going to be a long process. It's going to be like they learned it in three months. It's just. It doesn't necessarily work the same way.

Next slide.

So here's a list of things that you can do at home. More things you can do at home. There's so many things and then this translates to school because then you can tell the teacher, look he does chores. He does chores all the time. He is consistent and he should have a job because he can show up and do his work.

He can use this technology independently. So you can do FaceTime with him or support him that way.

He's making money in the neighborhood. Walking dogs. And he loves making money. It's an incentive to go buy xyz. Maybe he doesn't have that relationship.

Some people don't have that relationship to money. So maybe there's a prize at the end, whatever it is.

But money, as long as you can start putting that in people's brains, that money is connected to. Or that you get more on this credit card that you can go do something with. It's a real value, the earlier the better. But also all this independence.

Staying overnight with friends or family, going to sleepaway camp, eventually, meal preparation, cooking, taking a bus, walking independently, riding your bike by yourself. If you have that kind of neighborhood, just building independence and that's just going to help in everything you do for employment.

Next Slide.

So my son told me this amazing story. So we talk about the dignity of risk, right? This is that letting go. My sister used to say, I go to the playground. I don't watch. I turn around.

I don't want to watch them on the monkey bars because my son would miss a step every once in a while and he fall. And it would be so painful to watch, right? But I've had to learn this process of letting go.

So one day I'm talking to my son. And I said, "You know, I used to always worry about you." Because I used to think, maybe he won't be paying attention one day and he'll get hit by a car in a crosswalk.

And he looks at me and this he was probably 15 by then, and he looks at me and goes. I almost did get hit by a car. Like, he said that's when I made basically told me. That's when I changed.

Like, if I protected him, if I held his hand on every crosswalk, he never would have learned that. If I watched him like a hawk, he had to learn that. I'm not saying I want him to get hurt, I don't. But he has to learn. It's very personal. Just like it was for all of us.

So we all made mistakes when we were teenagers. We talk about this with social media. A lot of kids make mistakes, or they have issues with social media where they. Go to sites station see or whatever. But it's like you're not going to learn that independence.

You're not going to learn those skills, if you don't keep getting the opportunity to make mistakes. None of us do.

And when you made mistakes as a teenager, did your family say, Oh, you can never do that again. No, you had to go make mistakes again. Yes, you can be supported in those mistakes things, you can be helped, you can be connected to you. There can be some distance between you and another person supporting you, but it's OK.

It's OK. We all need to learn. So I just think it's important to evaluate this from time to time and reevaluate it. Because as kids develop, young adults develop, they also develop more ability. And adults develop more ability. And it's nice to keep testing this for yourself.

Next slide.

And this is the other thing, my son has said this to me, "Mom, you have to become more independent." You know what I mean? He doesn't need me. It's my job to let go and to be quite frank with you.

We're at the point now and I hope everybody laughs at this. But we're at the point now where it's like, it's really nice because I can run to the store and get milk for us and stuff. And my husband and I were getting up not quite me as fast as my husband but we're getting up in years.

And sure, it'll be nice for him to live at home. It'd be nice for him to go get milk for us every once in a while. Maybe eventually drive us to our doctor's appointments but that's not our job. Our job is to make sure that he becomes independent and he wants to do that.

And so I don't want to keep him at home. I do, but I don't. I love him. He's wonderful to have around. He's a wonderful human being but it's not healthy. It's normal for people to grow up and go away.

Next slide.

So we have these dual realities about our abilities and interests and also what their needs and supports are, right? So you kind of have to understand what their skills and abilities are. You have to know what their interests are, right?

They need to know what their interests are. And then you need to magnify those options for them like really this is the work. And unfortunately, no one's going to do this like you are. With them, is to really start to take apart the things that they're interested in and find different jobs that maybe they could do.

And then teach early self-advocacy skills. I had the opportunity to be in a job interview with someone who had a disability and they got and this was not my job.

I just happened to be one of the interviewers at a company and the person said in their interview, "Well, this seems like a really great job. I think I'd be a really good fit the problem is I take public transportation, I take the access van to get to work every day, and the access van has a window of 45 minutes on each side, so sometimes I could be late to work. But I promise you that if I'm late to work, I will schedule my van later at the end of the week so I can make up all the time that I missed because I was late."

She got the job. I mean, being able to say, I can't lift 25 pounds or whatever it is that's in that. Schedule of information is really important to be able to advocate for yourself.

However, in a job interview, don't even have to say that. You don't have to ask for your accommodations in the job interview. It's against the law for anybody to ask you that.

So you can do that after you get the job too. Just thought I'd add that. But you can, if you choose disclose, especially if it's obvious and a lot of people will wonder and maybe it's an opening for a conversation as well.

Next slide.

So the real benefit of work is time. Most of us work. I spend so much time at work. I spend way more time at work than I do out in my life with my family and my friends.

A lot of us work. It gives us pleasure. It's where we have.

Some of our friendships, even if they're just colleagues. But people that you talk to every day that you have a relationship with, it builds a life. It is the structure of most of our lives and it takes up a lot of time. But it's also really structured like school is.

And for many of our kids, structure is really important and something they sorely miss when they don't have it.

I recommend a job, because a job is typical. Everybody talks about what do you do for a living, right? Used to be, what's your major? Or what do you like to do for fun on the weekends, or what sports teams are you on? It's what do you do for work.

And we all are valued in many ways in the society by this. That's up to you. This is a personal choice. But I, my belief is that, you start with a job and you structure the rest of a person's day around that.

And I've even heard in transition, take care of the days, then take care of the nights. And maybe that actually came from Nancy Murray, who gave it to this woman. But the idea that you, you build a day. That's what you do, just like you did when you were in school.

So then around that you build in vacation, friends, social life, dance parties, whatever interests you have. But it's important to have that structure.

Next slide.

So this is a website. That is the transition website for Pennsylvania. And I do have these links on here, if you go to the next slide.

This is a checklist. That's on the pennsylvaniasecondarytransition.org website or transition.com. I think they're calling it this one is on the dot org version.

And this is a checklist of all the important variables you need to really be focused on is. This kind of like when you're doing surgery, you want to make sure you mark the left foot before you do the surgery on it. You don't want to forget for your young adult to sign up for selective service. Even if they have a disability, they have to sign up. And that's one of the things you check off on this list but it's also job exploration and lots of things.

So you'll have the links for all of this in the PowerPoint.

Next slide.

And this is also an app. So this app is available. And I believe I have the link in there too. But if you put in the words in your smartphone into PR planning for the future, you can download this. I keep it on my phone, my son keeps it on his phone, and we've checked off almost all the boxes now. We're close.

So this was created by United Way before when 21enables was at United Way. And I was there then too.

Next slide.

And then just this last. Sort of peace when you're in school. You want to do your IEP planning for transition and invite these outside agencies. I cannot say this enough. You should have your County agency if your child is signing up for intellectual disabilities or autism services and your OVR services at an IEP meeting.

Maybe both at the same time, maybe one. But again, that idea of having a separate transition, IEP meeting, and just having that page. You're just going to talk about the IEP. You can invite those partners then and spend a couple of hours really working on some of these solutions.

That person centered plan we talked about, you want to work on planning for the future. I achieve. I just did a presentation and does an annual conference, I believe. I'm planning for the future. That's a great resource. Planning, planning, planning, especially for your important documents with your attorney.

You want to do pre-employment transition services with OVR, what they call Pre-ETs, and that's really important. These are sometimes group exercises, but it's also the opportunity for some paid work experience. And my son took advantage of that, he worked at the local movie theater. And we helped him find that job through our friend. Post-secondary education and training, planning for school with OVR.

So again, if you're planning on college or post-secondary training, supports.

Even if you're going to do a vocational education program and take a couple of classes, you can get over at the table. I'm about to have a little cat come up in front of my screen, sorry. I might be coming. And then this is the pinnacle work. Real jobs, work based learning opportunities for home, schooled, and OVR.

Again, starting out with little jobs in the neighborhood, even shoveling sidewalks, you know.

And discovery with the arc of Pennsylvania, it's a really great program. I would take every advantage.

Next slide.

And there's technology. I think you probably know about this. If you haven't had them, check out from the Institute on Disabilities. Has resources on different kinds of technology that your child can use, your young adult can use, even out in the community.

And they have there are so many apps and things they teach all that. They teach sort of different kinds of phones and there's different systems and you can also borrow some of the technology and see if it will work in the community, especially.

And then PA Assistive Technology Foundation will help with loans and other grants other programs. They also have a really great money program, learning about your money. And I'm sure they may have spoken with you already as well.

Next slide.

Centers for Independent Living. They have Transition Programs. And you can sign up your son or daughter. And I think you sign up at first and then they fill out the application. And they have peer mentors and all kinds of programs within the Centers for Independent Living.

Next slide.

And I just gave some because I'm legally obliged to give you where I got these pictures from and the next slide and then lots of links. These links are on our 21 enable site at the PEAL center.

So you can go right to the beginning slides and go to the slide and click on all these links. We have them in English and Spanish wherever we have them in Spanish, and I've created them. So I think that's it one more slide maybe.

Thank you and I'll take questions. We have plenty of time, a conversation, whatever. If you want to share something you've done, that's great too. I'm happy to learn.