Reaching adulthood can be 'like falling off a cliff' for special needs students

Posted at 4:30 AM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 06:54:08-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Makenna Kash is a blind special needs student at Middletown High who was singing the national anthem at a recent Special Olympics event when the microphone cut out.

Without missing a beat, Makenna kept singing and the crowd joined in.

Makenna has been overcoming obstacles all her life.

Now 18, this is a big year for Makenna. From attending prom to soon graduating with a modified summa cum laude, she has beaten the odds.

Makenna has a condition called septo-optic nerve dysplasia. According to her mom, Marnie Kash, it's an underdevelopment of the brain.

Music therapy and other services have helped Makenna thrive. But now there's a new worry.

"Once she gets to a certain age like 18, it's kind of like, 'Where do you go next?'" her dad, Rob Kash, said.

Experts say the Kash family isn't alone. Finding services for transitioning students is difficult.

"A lot of families describe this next stage in life as falling off a cliff," Janet Seide, a family outreach associate for Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said.

Seide looks for services for young adults with special needs.

"So you need partners that are going to teach, you need partners that are going to employ, you need partners that are going to be able to be funding sources," she said.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital does help connect families to services for young adults with special needs. More information is available here.