Friday, July 16, 2021

Summer Program for Kai in Minneapolis

As Kai is rapidly approaching adulthood - he will be starting his senior year of high school in the fall - we have been feeling more and more stress about what he will do after he completes high school. It is becoming increasingly likely that Kai will not attend college. He has gotten good grades in high school and did well enough on the SAT (average in verbal, above average in math), but through remote learning this past year I got to see firsthand how he can get derailed and the amount of support needed to get back on track. It's hard to see him navigating college with these challenges.

And so we have been exploring other post secondary options for Kai.

We found a number of programs that provide supports for young adults with disabilities and teaches them life skills and provides vocational and job preparation training. One of those programs is located in Minneapolis and that is where we found ourselves this week.

In addition to the full-time program, MICC has a summer program where teens can get a small taste of what the full-time program would be like. Normally the summer program requires participants to live on campus (without parents) for two weeks but with the pandemic, this year they ran a one-week day program instead. So we rented a house in Minneapolis for the week and Kai attended the summer program during the day and came home in the late afternoon.

As with many things with Kai, he developed huge anxiety ahead of our trip. In the weeks prior, he started to dread coming up here and was convinced that it would be an awful experience.

On the first morning of the program, my wife and I stayed for a brief orientation. The staff seemed very friendly and energetic.

My wife and I got a private tour of their little campus including a look at a student apartment, classrooms, and community areas. We liked what we saw and thought this could be a good post high school option for Kai.

When Kai came home after the first day, he said that it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. The summer program is a mix of learning about different vocational careers, a small amount of training for getting a job such as resume preparation and mock interviews, a bit of life skills education, and afternoons of fun activities.

Kai seems to have enjoyed all of the fun stuff, from miniature golf and laser tag to swimming in the pool.

By the end of the week, he acknowledged that the week was mostly good. He liked all of the staff and said the other students were okay, too.

I'm not sure how he will feel if we want him to come here on his own for the 3-year full-time program, but this was a start.

While here, we also went out and saw some of Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was fun with many interesting sculptures.

And we made the obligatory visit to Mall of America. We rode a couple of roller coasters and played miniature golf.
It was really crowded so we had to wait to putt on every hole. It was a unique but difficult course with many uphill putts. Kai got frustrated at many holes and so I was surprised when, as we were leaving, he said "That was fun!"

The area where we stayed is near a couple of lakes and so we took in a beach on multiple days. Kai always loves getting in the water.
We were very pleasantly surprised to find that Minneapolis has a great diversity of restaurants and we tried several different ones over the course of the week. A few highlights included:

The 5-8 Club, home of the Juicy Lucy, a cheese-filled burger.
It was really good!
Vo's Vietnamese restaurant.
Revival, a Southern restaurant that serves yummy fried chicken.
And Kyatchi, our favorite Japanese restaurant.
On several days we had Japaneses-style crepes for dessert at Ichigo Tokyo Crepes.
On our last night, we went to a Venezuelan restaurant, Hola Arepa. We had a couple of small plates for appetizers: plantains tostones and shrimp aguachile.
And then arepas (cornmeal griddle cake sandwiches) for the main course.
The food there was good. This restaurant, like several others we went to this week, was walking distance from where we were staying. We really enjoyed staying in the city and having so many fun choices for dinner.

All in all, it was a successful week. We were surprised at how much we enjoyed Minneapolis. We also learned that Minnesota has good programs and supports for people with autism, much better than our home state of Illinois, so it might make sense to move here after Kai completes high school.

Now if only the winters weren't so bad...


  1. It sounds as if Kai really got something out of the week there. I never knew such a program existed. It sounds as if it would really help so many kids out there. I am impressed...there are still good people out there.

    1. We had initially just heard of a couple programs, but researched and found that there are a fair number of them. Many are focused on helping students with autism or other disabilities as they go to college but there are some like MICC that provide life skills and vocational training that don't involve going to college. These programs are wonderful, but very expensive.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...