Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Residential occupational training for special needs adults - Eastern New Mexico Special Services

Eastern New Mexico university offers a residential training program for adults with special needs. They are part of the western educational region, so it’s local tuition for neighboring states.

Special Services - Occupational Training Program

The Special Services Department provides services to students with disabilities. We maximize educational and career opportunities, assist disabled students with integration into the university community, and accommodate those students with services needed to allow full participation in all programs. Our certificate program is designed for students who, with appropriate training, are able to obtain positions in competitive employment. We currently have a three semester program, with a second year being developed. This second year will focus on independent living skills and employment.

Entrance Requirements:

A vocational evaluation less than 2 years old. (Either call our office to schedule, or obtain one privately).
Complete documentation and full disclosure of medical/developmental disabilities.
18 years of age or older.
Ability to self-medicate with no assistance.
Independently awaken to alarm/attend classes regularly and on time.
Maintain appropriate hygiene/laundry/dorm room.
Demonstrate effective communication skills and appropriate behavior.
Meet minimum entrance requirements for the selected study discipline.
We have a zero tolerance for any drug/alcohol use and students will adhere to the Standards of Behavior as outlined in the campus handbook.

Certificate of Occupational Training Courses:

Vocational classes and practicum’s/Job seeking skills/resumes
Independent Living I, II, III and labs. Advanced IL for second yr.
Recognizing Conflict/Conflict Management
Physical Education (adapted)
CPR/First Aid
Driver’s Education (optional) with lab
The College Experience

The Special Services Occupational Training Program leads the student to a Certificate of Occupational Training (COT). There are several career programs available (see course catalog). Vocational training emphasizes hands-on instruction, including 12-20 hours per week of on-campus classroom, lab, and off-campus practicum experiences. The technical skills taught in each career field prepares the student for competitive employment in that discipline.

Occupational Training Areas:

Auto Mechanics
Certified Child Care Attendant
Floral Design
Food Services
Certified Nursing Assistant/Home Health
Office Skills
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Maintenance
Sanitation, Building Maintenance, and Grounds Keeping
Veterinary Assistant

Special Topics:

Animal Healthcare
Stocking and Merchandising
Dorm Life & Independent Living

Students are provided opportunities to build positive social skills and demonstrate appropriate social behaviors by living at Sierra Vista Village. Although supports are in place to assist our students with the social challenges of living on-campus, all students are considered adults and are expected to adhere to university policy and standards of behavior. Our department has staff available between 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to assist students in their transition to dorm life, learning domestic skills, and making good decisions now that they are living independently.

Students and parents must remember: our educational program is geared toward students with disabilities; however, all students are adults, and must be able to live in the dorms and attend all classes and work sites with no assistant. Each student is expected to take responsibility for their educational and personal success or failure, and demonstrate maturity and behaviors appropriate for a college campus.

Although second year students are allowed to live in the apartments on campus; first year students live in the dorms.

Independent Living classes and labs are required courses for the COT program. In addition to labs, students choose a one hour elective from the following as part of the lab requirements:

Sign Language
Support from the Special Services Department:

Academic and tutoring support is provided as needed.

Computer Labs are open for students to use
Limited health concerns are seen by our Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.
Campus Security 24/7
Social Events

Resident activities are held, such as movies, dances, B-B-Q’s, and day trips. We also have Special Olympics and the snow skiing club.

Residence Hall

Our students gain independence as they display responsibility. Staff supervision is active until curfew and, as with any college student; our student’s are expected to adhere to dormitory rules and regulations:

Curfew: 10:00 p.m. M-TR - 12:00 a.m. FR-SAT
Sign in/out log
Weekend check out
Weekly room inspections
No opposite sex visitation in rooms
No private transportation for the first semester

Our career training allows students to learn marketable vocational skills, as well as practical life and independent living skills. We pride ourselves on the (avg.) 75% employment placement of graduates. Graduates leave our campus with verification of training (COT), certifications, valuable life experiences, and positive personal growth.

Verification of Training

COT from Eastern New Mexico – Roswell, an accredited university.
Checklist showing technical skills mastered in the chosen discipline.

The web site has additional materials …

Google suggests an article marketing a vocational assessment program for additional background  …

Marla Wittkopf is the vocational evaluator with the Special Services Department at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU-R) in the state's southeastern area. Marla has been with ENMU-R for seven years and is a tenured faculty member at the institution. The Special Services Department is part of the Developmental Studies Division, and ENMU-R is a branch of ENMU-Portales. This past academic year, Marla tested 115 students, most of whom subsequently enrolled in the Special Services Occupational Training Program.

The mission of Special Services is to provide occupational and social skills training for  students with disabilities who come from across the United States. Although the program can accommodate students without disabilities, the great majority of them have various disabilities. Many have learning disabilities, and throughout their lives they've been constantly told about all the things they can't do.  "It's neat to see their reactions when we help them realize all the things they can do," said Marla.

The program offers students vocational evaluations, counseling, and training within a work setting of their choice in the Roswell community. If program graduates decide to remain in the Roswell area, Special Services staff are often instrumental in aiding them in finding  employment in their chosen occupations.

The Special Services program is unique in the country in that Special Services students live in dormitories on campus, just as students without disabilities do. "They get the real college experience that way, and it also challenges them to learn important new skills," said Marla. "Their days are broken up into two parts, classroom work in the afternoons, and practicum job site training in the mornings. Living away from home in a dorm setting is a big, big change for most of them, and they take classes to help them adjust to living on their own. They take such courses as independent living, conflict resolution, and adaptive physical education."

At graduation, students are awarded certificates of completion that list all of the work skills they have mastered--at least 75% of the job's specified skills. Seventy percent of those who begin the program graduate, and about 75% of the graduates are successfully placed in jobs after they complete the program. "And often the three semester program builds their self-confidence to the point that they want to continue their formal education," said Marla. "It serves as a springboard for students who want and are able to earn their Associate's degree."…

… Many of the students enter the program with specific occupational goals in mind, and it's often the case that their goals are unrealistically low or unrealistically high. "It's not unusual for them to come in saying they want to be physicians or lawyers. Pro3000 and the work samples help them see very clearly where their abilities are compared to the occupational requirements…

… "Many of our students come in having been beaten down all their lives, people always telling them all about what they can't do. Of course they're discouraged," Marla said. "I stress to them that everybody has their own, personal ways of doing things, and we all have areas of strengths. There's no one 'right way' of doing things. We help students discover what they can do. We also provide assistive devices and adaptive procedures  (accommodations) where needed. We view those as the equivalents of the reasonable accommodations employers are required to provide disabled workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act….

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