$1.1 Million Grant to Help Students with Developmental Disabilities

Project CASE will identify, recruit and retain those students interested in furthering their education.

Texas Tech is working with South Plains College, the Texas  Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and local business partners on the project.

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

The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research

The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research is a comprehensive, life span center with a three-fold mission:

Providing services and support to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families across West Texas and the surrounding area

Offering cutting-edge training to teachers, families and other professionals to provide effective and evidence-based services and support to individuals with ASD

Conducting significant, sponsored interdisciplinary research to better understand and overcome the lifelong causes and effects of ASD in ways that improve functionality and quality of life for people with ASD and their families 

The Burkhart Center is part of the Texas Tech University College of Education.

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