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Nava R. Silton, Ph.D

Marymount Manhattan College
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A collection of stories, experiences and uplifting tales regarding the world of disabilities and the individuals who have them.

Informal classes create opportunities for students with intellectual, developmental disabilities

Nava Silton

Photo courtesy of Daily Texan Online

Photo courtesy of Daily Texan Online

When University of Texas professor Jon Pierce-Shimomura’s son was born in 2001 he was already worried about college, but not for the financial reason that concerns most parents. Jon was worried because his son has Down syndrome and he feared that he would not have the opportunity to attend a higher education institution. When the time came closer, Jon looked around for post-secondary programs for individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and found that there were very few. There were great sports teams, arts classes and theater groups for individuals with disabilities, but no post-secondary education programs. Jon then decided to start his own. Starting with what he knew best, science, Jon set up one informal learning class in 2009 at the University of Texas at Austin. The program has grown now to serve about 200 individuals annually. In the future, Jon hopes to integrate students into standard UT classes. Read more about the program here.