College of the Canyons is hosting a conference to support a growing, underserved population with workforce and classroom programs, among other services.
The event is called “A Transition Odyssey,” and the featured speakers include Dr. Alice Kuo, director of UCLA’s internal medicine and pediatrics department.
COC is hosting the program as part of a collaboration with UCLA and U.C. Riverside’s U.C. LEND program.
The U.C. program “provides graduate-level training to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents who have, or are at risk for developing, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other neurodevelopmental and other related disabilities (DD),” according to its website.
“The main reason we’re doing this is because there’s a significant issue with people who are transition age, between 16 and 25, who are on the autism spectrum,” said Larry Schallert, assistant director of COC’s Student Health and Wellness Center. “They have difficulty finding work that is meaningful for them, and they also have difficulty making the transition into college.”
The tables at the conference will feature programs and providers, Schallert said, as well as authors and experts.
“(The challenges exist) even though they can be brilliant, they still might have trouble with some of the barriers that are involved in signing up for classes, staying in classes,” said Schallert, “connecting with their peers, professors, developing resumes, applying for jobs and connecting with their supervisors.”
The Santa Clarita Valley has a strong network of providers, he added, and the goal was to make sure anyone who might have any needs is aware of all the resources available.
In addition to the tables, there will be a panel discussion by parents who have navigated these types of obstacles, as well as a panel by the experts.
The event takes place Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at College of the Canyons.