September 30, 2011
Texas Tech is working with South Plains College, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and local business partners on the project.
College can be a chaotic and confusing environment for individuals with developmental disabilities.
However, as a result of a recently awarded $1.1 million grant from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD), Texas Tech will soon house Project CASE, a program whose goal is to help students with developmental disabilities navigate through the higher education system.
Project CASE (Connections for Academic Success and Employment) will link the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research at Texas Tech with South Plains College, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services, and local business partners to offer a wider array of coordinated supports and services than typically provided in higher education for students with disabilities.
Co-investigators DeAnn Lechtenberger and David Richman from the College of Education Burkhart Center said this project will identify, recruit and retain students (ages 18 to 25) with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, who are interested in furthering their education beyond high school by earning an academic degree or technical certification and pursuing competitive-employment opportunities.
Students accepted into the program will develop their own wraparound team, which will incorporate active participation of the student, a facilitator, a degree program representative, local community supports and potential employers.
“The team will identify the appropriate supports and ensure the student has the opportunity to participate in internships to develop their work skills and employment resume,” Lechtenberger said. “They will work with the business entity and the schools’ career services department to help students obtain competitive employment once they have completed their program of study.”
Services will begin spring 2012 through Texas Tech and South Plains College. Interested students can find out more by picking up a brochure and application from either campus’ disability services office.
To apply and be accepted into Project CASE, students must first meet the developmental disability criteria according to the TCDD and the entrance requirements for Texas Tech or South Plains College. A detailed application and interview process is also involved before a student can be formally accepted into the program.
The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research is part of the College of Education and is the premier center in Lubbock for research, education and assistance for families affected by autism.
Research at the center covers three major aspects: developing strategies for the preparation of teachers to meet the needs of students, examining ways to develop parent support networks and preparing individuals with autism as they transition from school to adult services.
The Transition Academy, the center’s flagship program, is home to about 15 teenagers and young adults who have an autism spectrum disorder. They come to campus Monday through Friday to learn job and life skills, including how to live independently, and many have jobs through partnerships with campus and community organization.
The Burkhart Center is named for Jim and Jere Lynn Burkhart in honor of their grandson Collin.