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posted: 7/31/2011 3:00 AM

Lauds Harper's efforts for specials needs kids

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I would like to thank Harper College's Dr. Kenneth Ender, Dean Mark Mrozinski, Scott Cashman and members of the Continuing Education Department for listening to parents like myself, special education and nonprofit professionals.

Our goal from the beginning was to advocate for special needs young adults -- who after high school at age 18 graduate or stay in a high school adult transition program until age 22 -- that fall into the "black hole" category in receiving an education and job training in this state.

Special needs students can be in a school district system up to age 22, but if they cannot survive in a college classroom and are more capable than a person who enters a day program, there is not a bright future for job training opportunities and learning the skills to live independently on their own in this state.

Harper College will be offering four new enrichment classes, on top of the cooking class they already have, for special needs young adults in the fall. If that is successful, additional classes will follow and more vocational opportunities will be available through Harper's Career Foundations program.

These educational opportunities will not require state help and will be self-supporting by parent tuition and hopefully corporate donations in the future.

This is an opportunity, that's goal is to not give up on the potential of special needs children to be productive and contributing adults. As a special needs parent who is fighting to provide a future for my son, I thank Harper for their commitment to the special needs community and for offering more help than I would ever imagine, giving special needs young adults more opportunities to rely less on a state that has failed them.

Mike Baker


NW Suburban Chapter

Autism Society of America