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Catherine Quirion ’17 researches post-secondary options for individuals with Down Syndrome

By Upstate Institute on July 30, 2015
This post was written by Cat Quirion ’17
Cat and Josh at the Otsego Academy at Pathfinder Village

Cat and Josh at the Otsego Academy at Pathfinder Village

Pathfinder Village is a world-renowned community for individuals with Down Syndrome. Their programs allow for support for people of all ages, from a high school for students ages 7 to 20, to a residential program. I worked closely with staff developing the village’s newest program, Otsego Academy. Otsego Academy (OA) is a post-secondary education program that began this past year for individuals with intellectuals disabilities especially but not limited to Down Syndrome. I created a report about the first year of the Academy and looked at assessments that were done at the student’s first arrival in the village as well as during their last week of class. I also wrote about different highlights that happened during the year and different opportunities the students had in order to show the students’ overall experience in this first year. This report was also used to look at what could be done better in the assessment period as well as what was done very well.

Post-secondary education in the field of disabilities is severely lacking in knowledge, funds and support. Very often, individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) have very few options after they leave high school. It is often much harder for them to find and keep jobs and they really often need constant supervision and acquiring independence is very difficult. Because of this, very often individuals with ID become unemployed and rely heavily on family members to help care for them. Post-secondary education for individuals with ID is different from the mainstream college experience and geared towards attaining different goals, the first being independence. Otsego Academy is one of these emerging programs that provide students with ID a chance to attain independence through their three part program. Otsego Academy has a residential program, a vocational program, as well as an academic program. The students live in a house with other students and are asked to do everyday chores such as laundry, cleaning, and even cooking. While at school, students learn specific subjects connected to independence such as money management, resume building, interview skills, personal management, etc. In two years at OA, students are also introduced to many different employment opportunities through job exploration days, as well as short and long internships. The combination of these three aspects of life makes for well-rounded people and provides skills that are crucial in obtaining independence and living and normative lifestyle.

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