Let’s talk about college. The million-dollar question is, “To go, or not to go?”
Here at Cutting Edge, we have clients of all abilities. We have clients with master’s degrees! We have other clients who will probably not go to college, and we have everything in between.
Your Student’s Abilities
Today there are a lot more options than there were in the past. The most important thing is to look closely at your child’s abilities. Your therapist can help you do this. There are many programs for people with intellectual disabilities or autism that provide some unique forms of support.
Programs at Different Colleges
Tarrant County Community College has a program that provides social support, ADL support, help with organizational skills, etc. Plus, the classes are designed for those who are learning with a disability.
Texas A&M just came out with a program called Aggie ACHIEVE. This kind of program is not a traditional college program, but it can provide the college experience so that a child with a disability has the option to go to college like their peers. Many of our kids are going to school and are mainstreamed, and so they’ve grown up with kiddos who are going away to college. With a program like Aggie ACHIEVE, our kids can have that opportunity as well! Keep an eye out for programs like this at other colleges too.
Stay Close To Home
Many of the kiddos we work with will be able to go to a traditional college. I usually recommend that you keep them close to home in the beginning. These days you even have the option of online courses. You can have them try one or two online courses and get an idea of their ability to organize, plan, and interact on that platform.
Some of you will feel that your student will be better off with live classes than online. You still have some very good options. Collin College has a program called ACCESS that is very helpful. They will help the students get registered, and will also help them put together a letter about their disability that they can take to their professor. They will also help them with any accommodations they might need. They handle all kinds of accommodations, including those for vision-impaired and deaf students.
Whichever college you are interested in, make sure they have some kind of disability support system in place. I would not send a child to a college that did not offer some kind of support program. These programs will be called different things at different schools, so look for them as you do your research. However, these programs are not legally binding like the IEP your child has in school. An IEP is a legal document and schools are required, by law, to follow that document. An access office is different. Also, remember that your child will probably be over 18, and unless you are their legal guardian the college is probably not going to talk to you, Mom and Dad. That kiddo is an adult. You will either have to go through the student to get that information or have guardianship over them to get that information about support.
When it comes to going away at 18 to a four-year college, some of our clients are a little less mature, and this can present a lot of challenges. This is something to consider carefully.
Do your research to find out what’s available. Talk to other parents who have had their children in the various college programs. Take a tour so that you can see what things are like first hand, and get a feel for them. We definitely have some great advanced educational opportunities for our clients, and I’m excited about them!