""Daniel now aspires to enroll in a general college program after his remaining year in the postsecondary program for students with intellectual disabilities.""

About: Daniel (age 20)

Age Range: 14 to 21 years

County: Rutherford

Daniel is 20-years-old and has Asperger's syndrome. He and his family moved from Mexico to the United States in 1996. He lives with his mother Guillermina, and his brother Cesar (age 24).

The family decided to leave Mexico as a result of limited work opportunities, but faced difficulties finding a place to live in the U.S. Additional challenges surfaced during Daniel's Kindergarten year when the family discovered he has Asperger's syndrome. Daniel had difficulty interacting in large groups with other children, and as a result, was placed in a smaller setting consisting of two to three other children. After that year, Daniel was placed in classes and classrooms with other children with disabilities; this continued through the remainder of his schooling (up until high school graduation).

After graduating high school in 2011, Daniel and his family spent a year waiting on evaluation of Daniel's disability, so that he could qualify to attend a local postsecondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities. When Daniel was in high school, Guillermina began looking for programs that would help Daniel become more independent in society. Daniel was admitted into the program in 2012. Attendance has enabled him to "open up" and to be more confident in initiating and maintaining conversations with others.

According to both Guillermina and Cesar, Daniel is "very organized and always takes time to do chores and homework." Additionally, Daniel is fond of music (specifically rock music) and enjoys life at college. Cesar mentioned that Daniel has "limited social openness... and difficulty explaining himself and his needs, even within the family." However, the postsecondary program has helped him to develop more self-confidence and independence. Daniel now aspires to enroll in a general college program after his remaining year in the postsecondary program for students with intellectual disabilities. Daniel's mother says "Daniel understands that he will be the 'man of the house' one day with responsibilities and so he would like to continue his education." Her desire is for Daniel to be able to continue to gain independence and knowledge, and to eventually be able to start and provide for his own family without her help.

Despite their goals of continued higher education for Daniel, the family faces the challenge of financial assistance for university tuition. Cesar mentioned that he currently does not receive federal monetary aid because he is an undocumented citizen. He is able to attend a private university that has its own rules regarding tuition, but says that public universities require undocumented citizens to pay out-of-state tuition. The family will need to consider their financial ability to pay for Daniel to attend a university, but are hopeful and thankful for the progress they've seen in Daniel.

Updated on Tuesday, January 9, 2018