Friday, March 26, 2010

Advice From What is Quickly Becoming My Most Important Source

I have looked back with regret more than a few times since my son started college, and voiced that regret in this space. In particular, I wish we had done more research on disability services for each of the colleges to which my son had applied.

Today on the AANE website, I found a summary of a college survey that the organization conducted in 2008. Here are a few of the tidbits from the survey summary:

1. “If there is any single fundamental factor that determines whether a student’s experience will be negative or positive, it is the willingness of the college’s disability office to take proactive action.”

2. “If possible, get someone on campus to interact with your child regularly: it is essential that someone (advisors, disability office, academic support services, etc) take a proactive approach towards the student.”

On the first point, I would advise young adults with social communications issues (and their parents) to try and meet – or at least speak with – someone in Disability Services in advance. It would have been much easier (in my 20/20 hindsight) to keep my son on track with his academic choices had we done more research prior to enrolling, and explained his nonverbal learning disability and potential problems that might arise because of it (even though there is no anticipating exactly what those problems might be).

On the second point, even now I feel that my son does not have such a person at the college that he can turn to. His current academic advisor is from the Theater department, and he has yet to connect with anyone in Communications. Each time he went to the Director of Disabilities, there was a two week wait for an appointment – not exactly conducive to “interact[ing] with your child regularly.”

I believe my son will successfully complete his first year; and I hope that he can establish a “lifeline” contact, academic advisor or other staff member, early in his second year. Nonetheless, there are so many things that could make the transition easier; and these are just two.

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