Frequently Asked Questions
What does OPTIONS stand for?
Optimizing Potential Through Individualized, Ongoing, Nurtured Support
Why is a program like OPTIONS needed?
A large percentage of freshmen college students do not return for a sophomore year, and the primary cause of this phenomenon has nothing to do with academics. Students with learning disabilities coming out of high school are often not equipped with the academic, independent living, social, and employability strategies needed to lead a successful life after graduation. Many students with learning disabilities do not struggle to get information just inside the classroom, but in all other life areas, as well. OPTIONS offers an approach to working with students that stretches across academic, employability, independent living, social, and emotional domains, making sure that young adults have all the tools they need for success.
What are the components of the OPTIONS Program?
The OPTIONS Program consists of several components, all carefully interwoven to provide comprehensive support and instruction for students. The academic component consists of classes developed and taught by OPTIONS staff as well as support for participation in community college classes. Employment readiness also includes classes developed and taught at OPTIONS and partnerships with over sixty businesses in the community that provide supervised internship opportunities for OPTIONS students. Independent Living support and instruction spans a wide spectrum of skills needed to lead healthy, content adult lives. Communication skills are addressed through the Speech and Language component and are integrated across all areas. The social and emotional needs of students are addressed through integrated instruction across all program components by being aware of “teachable moments,” as well as by accessing community resources and Social Strategies groups.
What is the typical student profile at OPTIONS?
Most OPTIONS students are between the ages of 18 and 23. They are committed to participating in the program and are high school graduates or are in transition before college or employment. The majority of students have a primary learning disability diagnosis and one or more co-morbid diagnoses.
How did OPTIONS come to be?
Where are the OPTIONS facilities?
OPTIONS Transitions to Independence is located in Carbondale, Illinois, which is in Southern Illinois, only 114 miles from St. Louis and 350 miles south of Chicago.
What instructional options are there at OPTIONS?
College Transition Track – In this track, the student pursues a curriculum at the local community college to complete either a Certificate or an Associate’s Degree that can be transferred to another institution. The student receives academic support at both the college and at OPTIONS.
Certificate of Completion Track – In this track, the student pursues a Certificate of Completion in one of seven vocational areas. The academic requirements are taught through OPTIONS, and job-specific skills are taught through partnerships with community businesses via internship experiences. The goal is to help the student transition into competitive employment.
How does a student progress through OPTIONS?
What areas and skills are addressed through the College Transition track?
What are Certificates of Completion?
Certificates of Completion indicate a student’s readiness for competitive employment in eight of the fastest growing industries in the twenty-first Century: Business and Office Technology; Retail Sales; Social Services; Medical Services; Animal Care and Services; Food Services; and Janitorial Services. The Certificates also indicate the student’s successful completion of academic preparation, coupled with hands-on employ-ability training.
What areas are addressed through the Internship Experience Program?
Why do most OPTIONS students participate in Speech & Language Therapy?
We have found that individual and/or group Speech & Language Therapy facilitates effective expressive and receptive communication, helping students develop additional important employability and independence skills, especially at this later stage of learning.
How does OPTIONS help students to transition to Independent Living?
Where do students live?
Do staff members supervise the living area?
What skills are taught through the Independent Living experiences?
Life skills assessment and instruction, culinary instruction, social strategies curriculum, structured study hours, medical management, and recreation and leisure planning.
What are the major objectives of the OPTIONS Program?
The OPTIONS Program strives to equip each student with:
- Academic skills
- Employment skills
- Independent living skills
- Self-advocacy skills
- Social skills
- The ability to transition from school to college or work
Brehm and OPTIONS helped put me on my path to success. I learned how to deal with my disability as well as how to be an advocate for myself in seeking any help I needed in school or in life. Brehm and OPTIONS helped me to stand on my own two feet and taught me many important skills that I will use for the rest of my life. These skills range from organization skills to skills needed to live on my own and be an independent adult. If I had not come to Brehm and eventually gone to OPTIONS, I am certain I would not be in the place I am today and would not have been as successful as I was at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. The staffs at Brehm and OPTIONS are supportive and caring individuals who supported me while I was a student, as well as after I left the program. Brehm and OPTIONS will always hold a special place in my heart as I know they provided me with the foundation to be successful in life.Natalie Pereless