School bells are ringing in most neighborhoods across the country. Yesterday was the first day of school at the Elizabeth Lee Black School. Approximately 225 children and youth, 3 – 21 years of age, came off their busses. Most were smiling, but there were a few tears of children who were experiencing their first day away from mom and dad. For some parents like myself, there is always a tinge of sadness. Friends’ children are off to college. Ryan is not.
A few tips I’d like to share with those of you whose son or daughter might, like Ryan, not be on the college track.
- Whether your child is 13, 16 or 19, transition planning should be your “buzz” word. It’s never too early or too late.
- You are your child’s strongest advocate. Whether you are speaking to your child’s school teacher or your legislators, you know your child best! If you do not speak up for your child, no one will.
- Be prepared for this argument: “There just aren’t enough funds.” As an administrator, I know that managing available resources is a challenge, but as a parent I will never accept that as an acceptable response.
There are also new options to consider if your child has intellectual disabilities.
- Interactive Autism Network – Finding a College Program for Students With Autism
- Community College Consortium on Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
- Autism Speaks – Post Secondary Educational Opportunities
- Next Steps at Vanderbilt University
- Think College – College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Always keep in mind that there is no one right program for every person. Consider your son’s or daughter’s strengths and interests and begin the quest. I would be interested in hearing about programs that you find, are currently using, or have used in the past.