Teen's Next Test: Assistive College Program
Silverman, Ruth, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Like most kids his age, Josh Weiner will graduate high school in a few months, and like many of them, he will look forward to packing his belongings before heading to college.
But unlike his peers, he will take courses to perfect his life skills, rather than those leading to degrees in liberal arts, business, or computer science.
Josh, who is 18, lives in Buffalo Grove with his parents Mark and Judy and his younger brother and sister. He attends classes in Chicago, as part of a program run by Keshet (rainbow in Hebrew), a Northbrook-based school for children who are developmentally disabled.
He will be the first Keshet student in its 18-year history and one of 24 young people from throughout the United States who annually enroll in the 13-year-old Professional Assistant Center for Education at National Louis University in Evanston. He will live on campus, spend two days a week in a classroom and three days a week in vocational training.
"He was one of 300 who applied, 100 were interviewed and he was accepted," his father proudly recounts. "We started to look at the program in his sophomore year in high school. In his junior year, the people at National showed Josh and a teacher around. Keshet prepared him for this next step."
With his long legs tucked beneath him on a leather couch in the family room and his boundless energy barely contained, Josh said, "Keshet helps us to learn, to buy food, to do laundry. At the dinners, I met the speakers, like Eunice Shriver. She's Maria's mother. They think I was capable of meeting them."
Although Josh was diagnosed with hypotonia (poor muscle tone), as well as speech problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and serious learning deficiencies that prevent him from ever being able to read, he has an excellent memory and a sense of adventure and independence that serve him well.
"When he was younger, before he was in Keshet, he had no self- esteem," his mother said. "Now, he loves to answer the phone, he can get around on the bus, he's learned so much."
She credits the highly structured academic and job training program at the school, as well as the loving attention of the teachers and aides with his growth. …