Finding the Right College

High Function Asperger’s will be successful in college.  It doesn’t matter if it is a city college, a state college, or a university, there is a college that is the right fit for your child.  However, in order to find it, you will need to reach out to parents that have children on the spectrum or children with similar issues.

My luck came when some friends of our from temple began speaking to us about their son.  They shared some of the same issues my husband and I went through with Noah.  They shared their story about this little college 30 miles from Los Angeles and how this college and it’s staff supported their son.

Noah didn’t want to discuss college.  However, on the side, we did research into small colleges that had services for kids like Noah.  We bought books such as Colleges that Change Lives  and  The K & W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities …We marked pages and looked at locations.  Once Noah started talking about college, we asked him if he wanted to stay in state or out-of-state.  He thought about this and decided he wanted to stay in state because he wanted to be able to one home on weekends.  Then we began to search both private and public college in the state that were no more than a 3 hour car ride.

Don’t shrug off those private colleges.  Most of them will give scholarships that will compare the cost to a public university.  In addition, most private colleges are small, they provide support for all students such as, free tutoring and academic coaching.   Furthermore, the professors teach the class and not a teacher’s assistant. Most private classes have less than 20 students in a class.  Some classes can be as large as 40 students but at least it is not 500 students in a lecture hall.

Not matter if your child’s choice is public or private, make sure you take the tour.  Most colleges offer an overnight experience for the student.  The overnight experience consists of sleeping in a dorm with a student volunteer, eating all meals with other students, and attending a few classes.  Noah participated in this overnight in two different schools that he wasn’t sure about attending.  It really helped him envision himself in the school environment.

When we set up these tours, we also set up appointments at the Disabled Student Services for each school, even in the schools he didn’t attend an overnight.  Noah talked to the advisors about support.  He was able to discuss where he needs the most help (this took some pre-coaching before the meeting).  The schools discussed what they could offer him as accommodations.

Living in a single dorm instead of sharing is an accommodation recommended to us by the Disabled Student Services.  We pay for a double room and the Disabled Student Services pays for the difference in price.  The school states that students on the spectrum should ease their way into the environment in order to perform better and be more relaxed. By having  his/her own private space at the end of each day helps him/her rejuvenate for the next day.

Noah experiences positives and negatives with the concept of having a private dorm room. The positive is that Noah does relax once he is in his own space.  It does reduce his anxiety because he doesn’t have to worry about another body in the room.  The negative about this concept is that most Aspie’s avoid social settings.  So, Noah becomes a hermit and makes excuses as to why he can’t go to a social function like a club event.  Or, what drives me crazy is that sometimes he eats alone.  We have already prepped Noah for next year.  He will have a roommate.  Furthermore, we require Noah to participate in one activity per week.  Noah has found a group that meets on certain Friday afternoons to practice French and every other week, he participates in the chess club.  I hope this continues.

College is possible.  It takes time to research and most importantly visit.  research on the supports each school provides for all its students and then contact the Disabled Student Services for a meeting.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if there are bumps in the road along the way.

 

 

 

How Hard is to Hard to Push Your Aspie To be Social?

Noah continues to struggle at school on a social level.  He walks around depressed about his old friends that graduated or left the school, but refuses to move forward to reach out via Facebook and make new friends at school.  If Noah’s father and I didn’t push Noah, he won’t move forward.

Last week, I sat with him and showed him how to use Facebook to find his friends from last year.  I showed him how easy it was to stay connected.  But, I feel he really doesn’t get it.  Once his friends accepted the friend request, I explained that a good friend asks questions and doesn’t just spew stuff about mangas and anime.  No matter how many years he had in social skills group this part just doesn’t seem to connect always.

Yesterday, Noah had a senior swim party.  He wasn’t going to go at all!  This made my husband and I so sad.  It is his senior year; he should go and hang out, even if it is for a short time.  So, the day before the event, I drove Noah to school.  I had his undivided attention.  We usually have the best talks when it is just the two of us.  Originally, Noah’s plan was to visit the library, check out some books and movies for the weekend and have lunch.  I explained that he should make an appearance at the swim party and he might know some people there.  In fact, I told him he might have fun.  That’s when he told me he just likes to be alone.  That was hard to hear.  I told him lots of people like to be alone.  I have moments where I just need “Me time.”  However, I really want him to understand in the real world, he needs to try and step outside of his comfort zone, even if it just a little bit.  Any movement forward is better than none.

Recently, Noah told us about a class trip during Spring Break.  He really wants to go.  Perfect!  It is the bait we needed.  We told him that we would only agree to pay for this trip if he works hard in school and begins to be more social by making new friends and attending some events.

I just don’t want him to be alone in the world.  This is my biggest fear.  Am I pushing too hard?

Who else does this?

I just sent out my yearly emails to the teachers.  I give them a heads up about Noah.  I also let them know I am here to support them in any way they need it.  Sometimes I hear back from the teachers.  Other times, I don’t hear a word.

I am just curious do any other parents of special needs students do this too?

Summer time fun…to be or not to be

Summer is supposed to be fun in the sun with friends. Kids should be hanging out at the beach, eating ice cream everyday, swimming, going to movies, or hanging out on the street shooting the breeze. However for kids with social and emotional issues this type of frolicking in the summer is challenging. These kids prefer to be isolated in his/her room, only to be forced to connect with friends in order to get out of the house. Now take this one step father by sending this child to a sleep away camp for a few weeks. I have sent my child to a leadership training program. He wanted to go. He filled out the application. I just wanted to support him! My husband and i were so proud that our son took the initiative to apply. As his mom, I am nervous about certain things but I am familiar with the camp and I know I sent him to a safe place. He is with nine other boys in a cabin and the camp leader. He is forced to deal with being social at some level.

As a child, my parents always told me that I needed to fall on my face so that I could learn how to help myself work out my problem. This is the same for my child. He needs to work things out for himself without me running interference for him. The most difficult part in parenting is watching this process happen. There is an ongoing conversation happening inside my head, “It is good for him. He will be fine. He needs to go through these issues on his own in order to grow.” Then the reply is “Oh, I hope he can work this out. I don’t want him to be unhappy or feel anxious.” Then, I hear myself saying, “The only reason he is having issues is because he wants to retreat, be alone and play the addictive game boy. So chill out! He will be fine.”

How does a parent work through these types of situations without having a panic attack? I would love to have some helpful tips.

Remember there is always hope…

Last night the family went to the weekly session. We started working on the social deficit component in our son. Through our discussion the therapist presented our son with his perspective. The therapist told our son that he has a blind spot when it comes to connecting socially. In addition because it is a blind spot, requires more effort on our son’s part, that our son doesn’t want to put in that effort because it can be difficult. After our son hemmed, hawed and rebutted, at the end of the session our son finally admitted, the real reason he hasn’t reached out to make friends is he is lazy and it takes work to make new friends.

So, why am I happy about this realization for my son? I am happy because the light is on and now the work can truly begin. He may not be open to all our ideas but we can always bring him back to his words, “I am lazy…” Because these words are his way of realizing his blind spot and needs help!

I will keep you all posted!

Another great session

What luck we have to find this amazing therapist! He is loaded with great and helpful ideas to help our son move forward in his development. The challenge with these new ideas is they need to be rolled out slowly over time. The therapist suggest that we roll out a new expectation each month while continuing with the latest expectations.
So last month our new expectation is that our son reached out to a friend for a social hangout. While the social component continues, we are adding a physical component to his routine this month. We are giving him a choice (sort of) he can choose to run, hike, or walk at least two or three times a week for a minimum for 20 minutes.
Yesterday was the first day of implementing the physical part. How did that work out for our son? Not well in the beginning! He did not want to do any of it at all! I had to stand firm and remind him that not choosing is not a choice. So, we live in an area of hills, so I took him to the top. I pulled the car over and told him to get out of the car and walk home. He was so angry that he said,”Be prepared for me never to talk to you again.” Well,that didn’t last long.
In conjunction with rolling out new expectations, the therapist wants to make sure our son is making a connection to us via projects and not entertainment. The idea is not to just watch to a movie and think that he is connecting. The idea to work together on project type activities that will illicit conversation and team work. I try to have our son help in the kitchen. He is a little foodie and loves to eat good food. The part is do able. The addition to that is to check-in with our son and see if he is connecting to us. Well, this is going to take work put it that way:(. But Rome was not built in a day. When we say, “Hey, I love cooking with you.” His reply,”I love our dog.” Like I said Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The most important part for us as parents is to continue to push him forward in order for him to have a full and prosperous life in the future. In addition, it is important for us as parents to stand firm when he tries to push back.

Our dog…

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First high school spring break – almost done with first year

Well my son experienced a pretty low-key but fun spring break. We have been seeing a new child therapist. The therapist was really alarmed by the fact that my son has decided to become a hermit. The therapist said that we need to have him reconnect with friends because he has a deficit when dealing with people socially. So, we lit a figurative match under our son’s bum to reach out to old friends and plan activities. He didn’t see friends everyday. It was more like every other day. What was the most fun for our son was when my husband took our son and a few boys to Magic Mountain for the afternoon too. All the boys had a blast!!!!!
The important part is that we gently encouraged our son to reach out and be social. Each time he always came home with a smile and enjoyed reconnecting with friends. Once he was in the car and relaxed, I asked him how it felt to reach out and hang out with his old pals. He said, “It really felt good and wasn’t as scary as I thought”. The lesson for us as parents, we need to keep the low-burning figurative fire under his bum so that he won’t return to being a hermit.
With this break and a few friendly get togethers, our son still scheduled in his math homework, violin and bass guitar practice on sometimes on his own. Boy when aspie’s relax, the light really shines around them and the handsome smile returns. :). Love my son a ton!!!!!