On Top of the World: Meet Austin!

 

More than anything, Austin Shirk wanted to be a Buckeye.

Austin putting a sterilization rack back on the belt in Central Sterile Supplyl

From his home in Allen, Texas, he’d cheer for the football team alongside his parents, Dina ’88 and Dave ’92, and he often went to games when visiting Ohio relatives. As he grew up, he dreamed of taking college classes at Ohio State, making new friends and finding a good job.

But his prospects for higher education seemed remote to Austin and his parents. Austin is among millions of people in this country with an intellectual or developmental disability, less than a quarter of whom go on to college after finishing high school, according to Think College, a national nonprofit working to raise that percentage.

As for finding a good job, “We were having a heck of a time getting anyone to give Austin a chance in Texas,” Dina said. Though her son enrolled in independent living and job training programs, they didn’t lead to jobs. Instead, he languished on waiting lists.

If local programs could not help Austin, the Shirks decided, then they would move on. They began searching for an alternative and could hardly believe it when their quest led to their alma mater.

Ohio State had created a program in 2011 called Transition Options in Postsecondary Settings, or TOPS, to provide personalized support to students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The program is designed for students who want to learn life skills and find a job that matches their abilities and talents — all while experiencing the university’s vibrant academic and social life.

Austin had a chance to be a Buckeye.

He couldn’t fill out the TOPS application fast enough, and the Shirks waited nervously for the call. Then it came: He was in. “It was a big accomplishment, a big step to get into TOPS,” Austin said.

A world of firsts awaited Austin when he arrived in Columbus in 2014. While he was excited to be on campus, it was a big adjustment, and he would be living in his own apartment for the first time. Austin, who loved auditing classes with more “typical” Ohio State students, discovered a special interest he didn’t know of: “I enjoyed earth sciences, especially the lectures, labs and hands-on activities,” he said.

Based on that, his job coaches found him internships with the Nisonger Center Dental Program and a private dental clinic in Columbus, where he assembled instrumentation trays and sterilized equipment.

After completing the TOPS program in 2016, Austin went to work at the Wexner Medical Center where he supports the Central Sterile Supply department. His position pays a fair-market wage with full benefits, including retirement benefits and health insurance. “I love my job,” he said. “It’s worth going through the [challenges that accompany] being in TOPS.”

His manager, Jen Smith, is similarly delighted.

“Austin is so eager to learn new tasks, and he gets along with everyone,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen one human being get along so well with everyone.” It’s not just that Austin is nice; his contributions make the entire team more effective. “He can handle tasks that were taking our clinical staff away from production,” said Smith, who hopes to create another job with TOPS. “We would have two of Austin if we could.”

In helping students find their way as young adults, TOPS changes lives for entire families.

“I am so excited about Austin’s job,” Dina Shirk said. “When we got his diagnosis at age 10, the doctor said, ‘If I were you, I would teach him a few things and forget everything else.’ We never went back to him, and Austin has so exceeded those expectations.”

Source: MacLellan, Erin. “On Top of the World.” The Ohio State University Alumni Association, Ohio State Alumni Magazine, 2017, www.osu.edu/alumni/news/ohio-state-alumni-magazine/issues/march-april-2017/on-top-of-the-world.html.

 

Upcoming Webinar Series: Support for Aging Caregivers

Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services is offering several webinars in October and November on future planning for families who have an older caregiver. Register today for any of these FREE webinars.

Trusts and STABLE Accounts – What Families Needs to Know
October 27, 2020
6:30 – 8:30PM

The Future is Now
Four part series held on November 10, 12, 17, and 19
6:00 – 7:30PM

Source: Orange and turquoise flyer for Aging Caregiver Webinar; all details described in post. “DD Council Connection – September 2020.” Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Sept. 2020, ddc.ohio.gov/News/Newsletters/DD-Council-Connection/DD-Council-Connection-September-2020.

Disability Rights Ohio Releases Plain Language Voter Guides

Logo for Disability Rights Ohio

Be prepared for Election Day on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 by learning about your rights as a voter with a disability. Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) has released a new set of plain language guides with helpful information for voters with disabilities. The series includes:

These guides are available on DRO’s website.

Important dates to remember:

Source: “DD Council Connection – September 2020.” Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Sept. 2020, ddc.ohio.gov/News/Newsletters/DD-Council-Connection/DD-Council-Connection-September-2020.

Webinar Series: Emergency Readiness

Logo for the Center for Disability EmpowermentThe Center for Disability Empowerment is hosting a series of Emergency Readiness Presentations for persons with paralysis in Franklin, Delaware, Licking and Union counties. The series is focused on educating and assisting persons with disabilities to become prepared for Ohio specific emergencies such as fire, snowstorms, tornadoes, floods, viruses, and active shooters. Qualifying disabilities include, but are not limited to: stroke, spinal cord injury, MS, cerebral palsy, or any other central nervous system injury or disorder resulting in difficulty or inability to move the upper or lower extremities.

Free Emergency Readiness Supplies:

  • Car Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Yoga Mat
  • Extendable Grabber
  • Go/Stay Bag
  • Go/Stay Bag for Pets
  • Solar Charger
  • Waterproof/Fireproof Bag
  • Emergency Information Lanyard
  • Face Masks
  • Face Shield
  • Multipurpose Grip Gloves
  • All Weather Poncho
  • Long Range Whistle
  • Long-Handle Flashlight
  • Stress Balls

HOW TO EARN SUPPLIES:

  • Attend presentations to choose 5 free items!
  • Attend 10 presentations to choose 10 free items!
  • Attend 14 presentations to receive ALL free items
  • Attend ALL presentations for a raffle entry for a free evacuation chair ($3,000 value)

*Please note that supplies are based on attendance and are limited to the first 40 individuals with disabilities living within Franklin, Delaware, Licking and Union counties.

Presentation Topics

Click on topic to register for your session:

  1. The Stages of Emergency Readiness (October 2nd from 10:30am-12pm)
  2. Emergency Readiness and Intersectionality: How class, gender, ethnicity, ability, etc. play a part in Emergency Readiness (October 5 from 10:30am-12pm)
  3. The Politics of Emergency Readiness: How Funds are Distributed and How you can Help Improve Community Policies and Procedures (October 9 from 10:30am-12pm)
  4. Emergency Readiness Planning for Service Animals (October 12 from 11am-12pm)
  5. Emergency Readiness: Emergency Transportation (October 16 from 10:30am-12pm)
  6. Active Shooter Part 1: Preparation (October 19 from 10am-12pm)
  7. Active Shooter Part 2: Trauma Care for Civilians (October 23 from 10am-12pm)
  8. Active Shooter Part 3: The Fight and Aftermath (October 26 from 10am-12pm)
  9. Emergency ReadinessDurable Medical Equipment & Medical Supplies (October 28 from 11am-12pm)
  10. Emergency ReadinessMental Health Post-Emergency (November 2 from 11am-12pm)
  11. Emergency ReadinessMy Personal Readiness Plan (November 6 from 10am-12pm)
  12. FEMA PresentationHow can FEMA Help me? (November 16 from 11am-12pm)
  13. Emergency Readiness: Medication Management after an Emergency (November 18 from 11am-12pm)
  14. Be Red Cross ReadyHow can Red Cross Help me? (November 20 from 11am-12pm)

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to reach out to MSaade@disabilityempowerment.net or call us at 614.575.8055.

Source: http://www.disabilityempowerment.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/CDE_EMERG.pdf

REMINDER: SIL Leadership Academy Application

Applications Open for SIL’s Leadership Academy – DUE October 9th

Services for Independent Living – Ohio has opened applications for the Fall/Winter Leadership Academy. The eight-week course is designed to help individuals with disabilities develop skills to participate on nonprofit boards, community coalitions, task forces and system change committees.

The course will be held online from October 26 to December 14, 2020 on Monday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 pm . The exact dates are October 26; November 2, 9, 16, 23, 30; December 7, 14.

During the training sessions, participants will develop a basic working knowledge and understanding about topics related to serving on a board, coalition, task force or committee.  Training topics include the following:

  • Community Leadership
  • Disability History & Disability Advocacy
  • Functions of a Nonprofit Board
  • Government Committees, Nonprofit Committees, Commissions, Task Forces & Councils
  • Communications, Confidentiality & Board Ethics
  • Networking and Developing Community Contacts

Upon completion of the Leadership Academy, SIL will work with participants to identify areas of interest and potential leadership opportunities in the community. Leadership Academy participants will also be paired with mentors who are Leadership Academy graduates.

Any person with a disability who wants to learn how to make a difference and gain confidence and leadership experience in community decision-making on issues important to him or her.

To apply, please contact Laura Gold for an application by calling 216-815-0015 or emailing lgold@sil-oh.orgThe deadline for applications is October 9th.  Space is limited so we encourage you to apply early. If you need help filling out the application, please let Laura know.

Source: “DD Council Connection – September 2020.” Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Sept. 2020, ddc.ohio.gov/News/Newsletters/DD-Council-Connection/DD-Council-Connection-September-2020.

Upcoming Webinar Series: Transportation Equity Forum

The Ohio Aging and Disability Transportation Coalition (OADTC) will host a series of webinars in October on issues surrounding transportation equity.

The series is designed to inform Ohioans who are aging and with disabilities on work being done on equity and access to transportation services.

Flyer for the Transportation Equity Webinar Series on 10/6, 10/14, and 10/20. Black and white image behind the text description of a person sitting on a bus.

Tuesday, October 6, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM EST – Leveraging New Transportation Programs and Grant Opportunities to Bridge the Gap for Persons with Disabilities

  • Featured Speakers: Molly Black, Community Navigation Trainer and Coach at United Way of Greater Cleveland and Kierra Branch, Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) 5310 Program

Wednesday, October 14, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM EST – Impact that Transit has on Access to Economic Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and Identifying Barriers

  • Featured Speakers: Joshua Malloy, Community Organizer with Pittsburghers for Public Transit and Kevin Flynn, retired attorney.

Tuesday, October 20, 10:30 AM- 11:30 AM EST –  Unmet Needs in Transportation Services for Senior and Disabled Populations; Occupational Therapy’s Role in Senior Safe Mobility Disabilities

  • Featured Speakers: Elin Schold Davis, Practice Associate & Manager Community Access, The American Occupational Therapy Association Manager: (AOTA) Older Driver Initiative, and Deb Hill, Transit Planner at OMEGA, the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association

Those interested in attending are asked to pre-register for each session.

Source: “DD Council Connection – September 2020.” Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Sept. 2020, ddc.ohio.gov/News/Newsletters/DD-Council-Connection/DD-Council-Connection-September-2020.

Voting Information for the Upcoming General Election

Voting Checklist

  1. Register to vote by Monday October 5th, 2020
  2. Find your polling place
  3. Learn what’s on your ballot
  4. Find out what you need to bring with you to vote
  5. Go vote!

Image of important election dates (Election Day is November 3rd, Register by October 5th, Absentee and Early Voting Starts October 6th)

Absentee Ballot Process

Absentee voting is available and no excuse is required. The last day to request an absentee ballot is 3 days before the election (October 31st, 2020). Absentee ballots must be received before the close of the polls on election day, or postmarked no later than the day before an election and received no later than 10 days after the close of the polls.

If you are properly registered to vote, you submit your written request to the board of elections of the county in which your voting residence is located. Your request must contain certain information (discussed below) and your original signature. You may, but are not required to, use the application form provided by the Ohio Secretary of State.

You need to request an absentee ballot by written request, and it must contain all of the following information:

  • Your date of birth
  • Your name
  • Your signature
  • The address at which you are registered to vote and your date of birth
  • One of these items showing proof of identification: Ohio driver’s license number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, a copy of your current and valid photo ID, military ID, or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and current address
  • A statement identifying the election for which absent voter’s ballots are requested
  • A statement that you are a qualified elector
  • If you want the ballots to be mailed, the address to which you want them mailed

Early Voting

Early Voting for the Tuesday, November 3, 2020 General Election begins on October 6th and ends on November 2nd. 

All registered voters may request and vote an absentee ballot in person at their county board of elections or voting center as designated by the county. For specific information on times and locations contact your board of elections.

Voting In-Person on Election Day

Know your polling place location and bring your proof of ID to vote. The General Election will be held on Tuesday November 3rd, 2020. Learn what will be on your ballot ahead of time to know more about which candidates are running and where they stand on important issues; you can bring your printed and filled in guide from Vote 411 with you into the voting booth to help you remember which votes you want to cast!

Polling Place Accommodations

Ohio polling places should provide touch screen voting machines and have audio adaptations for assisting the blind. There are also adaptations for voters with lack of muscle control.

If you have a disability you may also have assistance by two election officials (of different political parties) or by the person of your choice (except employer or union agent). Poll workers are urged to accommodate voters with disabilities in any way they can.

If the polling place is not accessible for you, when possible you may vote curbside. In these cases, two poll workers will take a voting device to the you.

For more information, you can utilize the American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) resource.

Source: “Election Information You Need.” VOTE411, 2020, www.vote411.org/.

Sex Talk for Self-Advocates Webinar #7: Marriage

Join the AUCD Sexual Health Special Interest Group for Sex Talk for Self-Advocates Webinar #7: Marriage on Wednesday August 12, 2020 from 2:00 – 3:30pm EST. Our expert hosts of sexuality educators and self-advocates have invited a panel to discuss questions and topics related to marriage for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This webinar is part of an on-going series that addresses self-advocate questions about relationships and sexuality.

Register for the webinar here: https://bit.ly/332Yjda

Ian Danielsen, Longwood University – Programs for Students With Disabilities

 

Portrait of Ian Danielsen, Assistant Professor at Longwood University. Ian is wearing a blue button up shirt with an orange tie and a plaid blazer.

Ian Danielsen, Assistant Professor at Longwood University

Ian Danielsen, assistant professor of social work, discusses programs designed to help those with disabilities get the education they need in the Academic Minute Podcast for Inside Higher Ed.

Assistant Professor Ian Danielsen earned his Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1992. He then worked for the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice for nearly ten years in an intensive treatment program for sexually reactive youths.  He then worked for almost four years as a Clinician for a private agency providing residential treatment services for sexually reactive adolescent boys in foster care.

He began serving as the Director of the Greater Richmond SCAN Children’s Advocacy Center in June of 2006. Serving also as an adjunct faculty instructor for the VCU School of Social Work from 2009 to 2016, Ian has coordinated several important projects including earning Accreditation from the National Children’s Alliance, forming new multidisciplinary child abuse teams, and engaging in statewide legislative advocacy efforts.

Ian was honored to be a 2011 recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award and a 2012 awardee of the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor’s Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. He also serves on the Virginia Bar Association’s Commission on the Needs of Children. He was also named an honoree of the “Unsung Hero” award for victim advocacy in April 2020 by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General.

Ian accepted a faculty position in Longwood University’s Social Work Program in 2016.  Shortly thereafter, he joined a steering committee to form “The Longwood LIFE” Program, a post-secondary education program at Longwood for young adults who have intellectual disabilities.

Discussing Programs for Students With Disabilities

 

Transcript of the Academic Minute Podcast with Ian Danielsen

Increasingly across the U.S., colleges and universities are establishing programs for young adult students with intellectual disabilities and students on the Autism spectrum. In Virginia alone, there are at least three such post-secondary programs active in state universities, with some collaboration among them. 

While programs vary in style, structure, and cost, they are all rooted in a value system of inclusion and accessibility.  The growth of programs nationally reflects a collective recognition that the vast and deep resources of universities can be of great benefit students with intellectual disabilities, both academically and vocationally.

Colleges and universities are often seen as microcosms of larger society; they represent a training ground for students to practice skills for future independent living.  It therefore follows that if students with disabilities gain access to this setting of supported semi-independent living, then their competencies for greater independence will grow as well.

Some university programs include students with disabilities in pre-existing non-degree courses, on a sort of “audit” basis, tailoring the students’ course loads to their academic and career interests. Others provide more individualized instruction, offering courses in social skills, daily living skills, and skills for development of healthy relationships, as well as tailor-made coursework in economics, physical education, music, and theatre.

We have studied the ways in which our program has benefited students and found genuine growth in their life skills and vocational readiness. My research focus is in the benefits to other university students, faculty, staff, and parents, as we have seen time and time again that inclusion enhances and lifts the culture of the university as a whole, our mutually beneficial experiences supporting the personal and professional growth of us all.

SOURCE: https://academicminute.org/2020/07/ian-danielsen-longwood-university-programs-for-students-with-disabilities/

New Staff: TOPS Residential Coordinator – Sheri Uhrin

Good Day,

I’m Sheri Uhrin and I recently joined the TOPS staff as the new residential coordinator.  I have lived in the Columbus area for the past twenty years but grew up in Wisconsin. I attended college at University of Wisconsin – Stout and earned my B.S degree in Vocational Rehabilitation and M.A in Rehabilitation Counseling from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C.   I have a CRC Certification (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor). I was previously the Transition Services Coordinator at the Ohio School for the Deaf for over twenty years. Where I have worked with youth 14- 22 with transitioning and preparing for life after high school.

My husband Janos of 26 years met in Tucson, AZ when I was on an internship for my Masters and he was traveling and visiting the states (he is originally from Hungary). We have an adult son Riley, who is 23.  Stella, is our 8 year old Australian Sheppard.

Things I enjoy in my free time are: traveling, hiking, cooking and spending time with my family and friends.

I am looking forward to being a part of the TOPS Staff and getting to know you all.  🙂