Office of Policy Update – January 2020

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In the fall of 2019, Ohio’s Interagency Work Group on Autism (IWGA) conducted a survey of young adults with autism and/or other special health care needs (i.e., diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, etc.) who had recently exited high school.

The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition has identified predictors of post-school success, things that can be done in high school to increase the likelihood youth will further their education, get and keep a job, and live more independently. While Ohio’s response rate was low, data from the IWGA survey supports these predictors. Specifically, the survey highlighted two key predictors: work experience and self-determination (as evidenced by IEP participation). A few highlights of the survey include:

  • Students with work experience in high school were significantly more likely to pursue additional training or education, have a job currently and experience success finding and keeping a job.
  • Students who actively participated in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings were more likely to go to college or get additional training after high school, look for a job, and/or be working.
  • Of those students surveyed who had no work experience in high school: 70% did not pursue additional education or training; 80% did not get a job after high school; and 75% still don’t have a job.
  • Only 50% of students not actively participating in their IEP meetings have looked for a job.

More results can be found here. The survey also asked questions about access to medical care and insurance, which will be shared in future issues of OCALI Now.

Perspective & Possibilities: Celebrating 2019 and Ready to Kick-Off a New Decade

By: Shawn Henry, Executive Director, OCALI

Perspective and possibilities—as we wrap up 2019, these are two words that I’ve been reflecting on over the past few weeks. The end of the year at OCALI is an extremely busy time, but also a time of incredible celebration. Just a few weeks ago, on November 20-22, our team hosted nearly 3,200 attendees from around the world at OCALICON—the nation’s premier autism and disabilities conference.

The growth of this conference has been incredible—steadily growing each year. We love seeing that this event fits a need for so many. But, what’s even more exciting and special to me is the community that we’re creating together. It’s a community of people from all over the world, serving in different roles with different ideas and opinions. It’s this type of community that creates an environment of innovation, learning, exploring, and true connection—all aimed at promoting access and inspiring change for people with disabilities and those who love, care for, and support them. From educators, service providers, parents/families, self-advocates, community leaders, policy makers, and others, we’re striving to connect each other to create and expand accessible and inclusive opportunities for all.

Continue reading “Perspective & Possibilities: Celebrating 2019 and Ready to Kick-Off a New Decade”

A Look Back at OCALICON 2019: Stories from Attendees


On November 20-22, more than 3,100 state and national leaders, K-12 education leaders and practitioners, service providers, policy makers, families and self-advocates from 39 states and three countries gathered in Columbus, Ohio at OCALICON. Now in its 13th year, OCALICON 2019 had record-breaking attendance—a trend that has continued over the past three years.

Rather than writing a traditional recap article, we decided to ask a few attendees to share their personal experiences at OCALICON. Don’t forget to save the dates for next year’s conference—November 11-13, 2020, once again at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. Details will be coming soon!

Continue reading “A Look Back at OCALICON 2019: Stories from Attendees”

Inspiring Change: A New Podcast from OCALI

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Hot off the press is OCALI’s brand new podcast, Inspiring Change. Take an audio journey with OCALI through our monthly forum of stories and connections from our ongoing work of inspiring change and promoting access for people with disabilities.

Through candid interviews and conversations with leaders and partners in the field of disability, as well as parents, community members, self-advocates, and others, listeners will discover and understand how different ideas, perspectives, and experiences help fuel OCALI’s continued efforts to impact lives in Ohio and beyond. 

Continue reading “Inspiring Change: A New Podcast from OCALI”

Be Our Guest—Creating an Inclusive, Fun-Filled Family Dining Experience

Imagine that it’s a typical Saturday night, and you and your family head to a local restaurant for dinner. You walk in and there’s a line out the door. You see service staff buzzing around with trays of food, kitchen staff spouting out orders, and dozens of tables squeezed close together. While this sensory-stimulating environment may not interfere with most people’s dining experience, families with loved ones with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may not be able to easily dine out because of the challenging environment restaurants present.

Designed to provide an inclusive, sensory-friendly, and fun night out for people with autism and their families, Hospitality Listens is a free, dining event hosted by the Hospitality Management Program at The Ohio State University, in partnership with OCALI.

Continue reading “Be Our Guest—Creating an Inclusive, Fun-Filled Family Dining Experience”

Office of Policy Update – November 2019

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As noted in the October edition of OCALI Now, efforts are underway to develop an action plan to reduce custody relinquishment and improve outcomes for multi-system youth and their families. As part of the Multi-System Youth Action Plan Committee, the Office of Policy is leading a work group focused on modernizing Family and Children First Council, and continues to raise issues and concerns shared by families who have multi-system youth with disabilities. Other work groups include: data; peer mentoring; high fidelity wrap around; safety-net funding; and legal/financial conditions that lead to custody relinquishment.

The Multi-System Youth Action Plan Committee and working groups will meet throughout November and into December. According to the Governor’s office, “Based on this evaluation and action plan, funds will be made available for both sustainability efforts and technical assistance.” Additional coverage of this issue can be found in a WOSU radio broadcast or this Columbus Dispatch article