Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Impressions

Today as part of my job search efforts, I attended a workshop on interviewing. One of the critical points the facilitator stressed was the importance of first impressions. In fact, he mentioned that it would not be a bad thing to arrive early for an interview, thereby allowing time to run to the restroom and make sure there are no signs of breakfast between your teeth or on your clothing.

If you’ve been following this blog, you can see where this is going – there has always been a good motive to the fact that I hound my son about a clean face and general self-awareness when it comes to manners, cleanliness and hygiene. I am almost ready to concede that he no longer needs my reminders.

Approaching 20 years old (next month), he is very good about using a napkin at meals, carrying tissues, etc. He doesn’t leave the house without washing his face, and I assume the same goes for leaving the dorm.

As has always been his “MO”, he arrived at an understanding of the value of making a good first impression in his own time; but arrive he did.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Little Things Mean a Lot

The day (earlier this month) that we spent several hundred dollars in the College Bookstore was a little hectic. We worked with a salesperson to find my son’s texts, but it turned out they picked up the wrong book for one of his classes. He only realized the mistake on the day after the last day to exchange books for a full refund. The bookstore sales people were not willing to take the book back. He called and let me know and I coached him on how to approach the sales people about the return and he marched back to try again. He texted me later: “No luck @ bookstore.”

I was able to talk to the manager and she very patiently explained their policy; I very patiently explained why this $117 book was an albatross. She compromised by offering a full credit for the price of the book, assuming it was in brand new condition. It was; and today my son called and let me know he had gotten the credit. I am thrilled that someone at the school was assuming their share of responsibility. [Being the parent of a young adult with NLD, I asked him to keep the refund someplace safe so he would not lose it! ]

In the meantime, my letter to the President of the school regarding the lack of professionalism from the Office of Disabilities generated an unexpected and unwanted response. Instead of calling my son, the director called me. I have been a little busy with my job hunt to return her call, but I find it very telling that she chose to call me. After all, I was aggravated by the cancellation, but not impacted by her thoughtlessness. I think it would have been more considerate of her to call my son to apologize for her mistake and offer an explanation to him of what might have happened (details not necessary); and perhaps offered to meet with him sooner than September 30 as a peace offering. Are my expectations too high for this school?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Vent

After posting yesterday, I realized how distraught I was over the level of professionalism exhibited by the OSD at my son’s “university.” Before I could stop myself, my fingers had typed a letter to the president! Unfortunately, I do not hold high hopes that she will reply.

The more important thing is that – learning disability aside – my son has gotten off to a fairly smooth start in his second year. His new roommate, he says, is nice but pretty quiet. He likes his classes, especially the communications courses. He believes the Public Speaking course will be the most challenging; but I reminded him that if he has to deliver prepared speeches, he will do fine because of his acting experience. Ex temporaneous speaking is more difficult (partly because of the dysfluency, but I think speaking off the cuff in front of a group is a challenge for most people).

He is in a brand new, sophomore-only dormitory which is truly beautiful; the dorm has its own cafeteria and my son has informed me that the food is much better than it was last year. There are two resident faculty members who are there to organize academic support groups (I think they have other responsibilities but I am not quite sure what they are). He is involved once again with the Ultimate Frisbee Team. However, he has found the practices physically demanding and he is not sure that he will stick with it for the full year. I hope he does – as much for the inherent social connections that it provides him with as for the exercise. He has committed to staying on through the first tournament, which is on Saturday, the 18th.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Same Old, Same Old

My son’s State College was granted University status this past summer. This is something the president of the school has been campaigning hard for – kudos!!

But at this point, I have not seen anything in the demeanor of the professional staff that indicates that they are ready to step up to the challenge of “kicking it up a notch.”

I had asked my son to arrange an interview with the director of the disability office because last year he learned how hard it is to schedule time with her. He did so and she confirmed an appointment for September 2 at 3 PM. On his agenda, my son wanted to discuss finalizing the change in major; getting a departmental faculty advisor from Communications; get accommodations for the semester squared away; inform her of the fact that he has now hooked up with our State’s Rehabilitation Commission office in order for him to get additional support in future employment (more about that another day); and finally, how he might go about finding a job on campus. Although the last item does not fall within her purview, any tips she might have offered him on where to go or who to see would help.

Unfortunately, although the school may now be a “university” the Disabilities Office remains the same unprofessional bureau that it was last year. Not only did she not show up for his appointment, she did not notify him of the cancellation. When my son arrived, the only thing he could accomplish was getting the accommodation letter for his professors. He was told to reschedule and the soonest he would be able get in to meet with her would be September 30. Unbelievable.