AHRC New York City

Project Name: Building Futures

Contact Information:
Madelin Rivera
(212) 780-2533
83 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038

Project Goals

  • To provide the person-centered, coordinated, and cooperative programming necessary to facilitate the transition of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and cognitive and developmental disabilities from school to the adult world of work, community living, and community membership; and
  • To identify and foster agency practices that promote a person-centered approach to services and to identify and change agency practices that hinder it.

Project Description

Building Futures began in the 2007-2008 school year with 10 student participants; through the school-to-community grant, a total of 72 students will have received services. The program employs the following methods:

  • Using person-centered planning tools to enable students and their families to identify a vision for the future and guide instruction. We promote discussion and problem-solving among the family, their son or daughter with Autism, school staff members, and other people who are important in the life of the individual; such as their Circle of Support.
  • Developing individualized schedules for each student that reflect a commitment to five outcomes: 1) being present and participating in community life, 2) gaining and maintaining caring relationships, 3) expressing preferences and making choices in everyday life, 4) having opportunities to fulfill respected roles and to live with dignity, and 5) continuing to develop academic, vocational and personal competencies.
  • Developing a transition plan through the process of person-centered-planning (PCP). The plan identifies activities designed to promote a student’s independence, self-advocacy, and decision-making skills. Over time, the students’ IEPs change to reflect transition goals that have been developed through the PCP process.
  • Nurturing a relationship among schools and families to increase individualization of supports and services. Our work with families is guided by four principals and practices: 1) Respect: Honor cultural diversity; 2) Communication: Provide and coordinate information; 3) Equality: Foster empowerment; and 4) Advocacy: Keep your conscience primed.
  • Promoting self-advocacy. An important part of adolescence is learning to speak for oneself. Students meet weekly to learn self-advocacy skills.