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Rosie’s Road To Independence

2016-03-02-Article for ASN Rosie-a-borderCollege can often be a stressful and challenging time for students. There is the seemingly endless list of classes to attend and assignments to complete.  For students with behavioral health issues, college can  also be overwhelming.  Rosie [pictured] is a young woman in her early 20s who attends Baruch College.  She has also been diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability and schizoaffective disorder.

As Rosie entered the last year of her bachelors program, she realized that she had fallen behind significantly with several assignments due to poor organization and time management skills and was at risk of failing. She was completely overwhelmed emotionally and had to be admitted to hospital because she experienced a psychiatric breakdown.  Rosie’s parents were concerned that their daughter would not finish her studies so they looked for additional supports to help her.

S:US identified Rosie as eligible to receive behavioral support through our Balancing Incentive Program (BIP) grant designed in part to support individuals with disabilities who live at home but are at risk for psychiatric hospitalizations.  The BIP team of behaviorally-trained specialists, analysts and technicians developed and implemented strategies based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to promote independence and minimize high risk incidents that often lead to emergency services.  

In August 2015, the team began working with Rosie to identify goals that would help her obtain a degree. Rosie also asked the team to help her address specific deficits related to education and social skills.  Her team set to work to develop strategies utilizing visual cues and incentive programs to increase her motivation to complete assigned tasks.  After working with Rosie, she learned how to apply her newly-developed organization tools to her day-to-day life.  

Over the past six months, Rosie has acquired and mastered the skills necessary to move forward with reaching her goals. In addition to organization and time management skills, she has learned self-advocacy skills and as a result is receiving assistance from her University’s Office of Disabilities to maintain the necessary support she needs to graduate.  She is another semester closer to receiving her BA in Business and like her peers dreams of living on her own, gaining full-time employment and entering into a loving relationship with a significant other.  She has also learned how to plan trips around NYC using public transportation and to regulate her spending by following a budget app on her phone.  Thanks to the support systems that the team developed, Rosie is well on her way to reaching a greater level of independence.

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