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Preparing for the future

When Ethan started high school, we were thinking about college, but it was more in the back of our minds. He had a few years to go before we had to investigate in earnest. Well, he's halfway through his junior year and earnest has arrived.

We got him and SAT tutor, because Ethan's really going to need to rock his SATs to make things like interview and extracurricular moot. We've been trying to stir his interest in different majors like computer science, software engineering, and other engineering. These fields are some of the few that have a few companies that will actively seek out people on the spectrum because of their special skills (attention to detail, memory, visual abilities,etc). We've been asking him lots of questions about the type of school he has interest in.

The difficult truth is that Ethan doesn't have a clue what he wants. Now I know a lot of high schoolers don't know. But my husband and I were the other kind of kids. By Junior year, we knew what major we were interested in and had a short list of schools that we knew we'd apply to. It's hard to relate, and Ethan needs guidance, so it's a balancing act of trying to steer him to explore and consider, without 'telling him' what to do.

There are a number of Universities that have established 'autism' programs to help students matriculate, support them both with academic and social advise, etc. Unfortunately, most of them are on the East coast or southern. The one thing when we talked to Ethan about college that he seemed he had and opinion was that he thought he'd like to stay in California/west coast. There are a few programs in California, and I've investigated a little bit. None seem like an ideal match.

So that leaves investigating with departments of students with disabilities. Most are more experienced with ADHD/LDs but are open to working with students on the spectrum. There is support to be had, but a lot less structured. We could also investigate privately finding a mentor for him, if we had connections through other families we knew with students going there.

More than anything, I think Ethan needs to live in a dorm and campus environment. It will help him become more independent and grow. He'll need some transition help up front, but after a short time, I think he'd get the hang of things. He's very adaptable and did well at overnight camp, although that had lots of support from counselors and was very structured.

So here we are... going to visit schools this spring and summer. Going to evaluate college majors and think about admission requirements. I'm leaning towards Ethan being up front about being on the spectrum, even write essays on the subject. I think it will help his admission for them understand how much he is capable of despite his disability. I'm also hoping that the increase of entertainment and news of people with ASD opens the eyes of admissions counselors to the benefit of admitting these students.

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