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Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Please, can you help me go to college?" -- An Update

A previous post mentioned Billy Pagoni, who asked President Obama for help in his quest to go to college.  Fox provides an update:
The video garnered attention from people all over the world, as well as feedback from a White House spokesperson, who provided Edith with a list of colleges that offered educational programs for autistic students. However, after meeting with these colleges, Edith found their programs to be more geared towards those with high functioning autism, such as Asperger’s syndrome – and since Billy had a more severe form of the disorder, he couldn’t quite fit in.
As a result, Edith was forced to find alternative solutions to meet Billy’s educational needs.
Fortunately, Billy was able to get a glimpse of the college experience when his family moved back to Connecticut and enrolled him in a special program at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. There, he was able to finish his senior year of high school while living on campus and learning how to function on his own.
But after graduating in May of 2013, Billy still wanted to continue his educational career. That’s when Edith stumbled upon G.R.O.W.E.R.S. Inc., a company aimed at helping people with developmental disabilities perform useful skills and tasks in a normal work environment.
Edith said this program has been extremely beneficial for Billy, as they try to assess his options for future education and employment.
“We’re kind of in a transitional stage,” Edith said. “He really wants to continue with that post-secondary academic experience, but we have to carve it out for them, because there really are no programs out there.”
At G.R.O.W.E.R.S. – which stands for Growing Real Opportunities with Educational Relationships & Stability – Billy and other adults work together to grow flowers and plants in a greenhouse, while attending to additional responsibilities surrounding the horticulture business. The program is meant to cultivate the specific needs of each participant, depending on what they want to achieve in the future.