Step I students join our program either directly after high school or after exposure to post-secondary education. They almost invariably come from Special Education settings. They typically have moderate to severe learning disabilities, or have been diagnosed with a spectrum disorder such as Aspergers Syndrome or PDD. Frequently our students have difficulty with executive functioning ie. organization of their environments as well as time and money management.Because of the level of independence and maturity required to function successfully in their own apartments, we are not equipped to deal with the needs of individuals with significant emotional or behavioral problems or addictions.
Step II students are generally young adults who have successfully completed all of the basic requirements of our Step I program. They demonstrate readiness for the challenges of independent living with limited supports.
Success at the college level involves more than merely passing courses. There are a great many skills required outside of the classroom, which can be daunting for an otherwise academically able student with a disability such as Asperger’s Syndrome. These skills include: organization, time management, money management, sound judgment and social skills. The student who lacks one or more of these co-requisite skills will find it difficult to thrive in a campus environment.
For the student with Aspergers Syndrome who has the capacity to benefit from academic offerings but who lacks sound judgment, social and organizational skills, dorm life on a college campus may not be an appropriate choice. This kind of student can become overwhelmed by the difficulties of a lack of structure and support outside the classroom.
Living at home may be an option for some, however, the need to develop independent living, social skills and friendships is as much a necessity for life as academic achievement. Living at home, however, is generally not the best way to gain experience in these vital areas.
Giant Step allows for the student to attend a college or university on the student’s terms ie. dealing only with the structured academic aspect of academic life while facing the other issues of executive functioning, social and community integration and academic support within our specialized community.
Life at Giant Step is an ideal way to attain educational advancement while addressing other needs. Providing a safe, supportive environment, Giant Step is specifically equipped to meet the needs of this population. It is an alternative for achieving an advanced education and the life skills necessary to make that education most relevant.