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Sr. Year and College - oh my...

I've not posted in a while and not because I haven't had a lot on my mind. It's more because I've been in a state of uncertainty, more so, than ever before.

Ethan took his SATs, had some tutoring over the summer in advance for Sr. year, he's got almost his first semester under his belt, and his college applications are completed and out for consideration. We visited about a half dozen campuses of the summer. Researched online.

And I have been at a loss even more so than before we started the process.

I'm sure many a parent dreads the day their child goes off to college (not mine, but I'm sure others LOL). They might fear if their child isn't ready, mature, or independent enough. They might wonder about handling academic pressures. They may even worry about them eating right, brushing their teeth, dealing with a cold or flu. My worry in these areas is a bit intensified since Ethan is on the spectrum.

Let me back up a bit. When Ethan was evaluated and diagnosed at about age 2 1/2, they wrote up this elaborate report of his various developmental delays, behaviors, and specifically what made up his autism diagnosis. He was nonverbal. He stimmed. He was non-responsive. They did make note of scatter skills such as advanced puzzle solving and good fine motor skills. But like any parent getting that initial diagnosis the obvious piece missing was even the tiniest bit of prognosis. They literally hand you the report and say your kid is autistic, call your school district, good luck. Bye.

You have no idea if your kids will ever speak or go to regular school. As he progressed through pre-school, we took the recommendations of the teachers and therapists working with him. We had an N of one. They at least had seen a fair number of autistic children with probably a wide variance of cognitive level, behavioral issues, and autism severity. He was mainstreamed (fully included) with classroom aids in kindergarten. And from there, we often waited for the other shoe to drop. How far could he go before he might have to be in a special educations classroom. He made it through elementary but with many issues and supports. In middle school he was able to lose his classroom aids and be more independent, but still with supports and accommodations. I was still waiting for that other shoe, when the work became too difficult. He did well his first two years of high school and seemed to be keeping up academically. We started to look at taking the SAT and 4 year universities. Even thinking about going away. For a while, I didn't think about whether or not he had limitations.

Senior year has been interesting and telling. The level of difficulty of math, physics, and computer science is higher than ever before. His deficiency in problem solving and higher order thinking skills were evident. He's been going for extra help and tutoring. We've also been working on breaking down problem solving skills to hopefully boost these to apply generally.

So for the first time, I find myself truly wondering what kind of major, profession, level of college work would be good for him. Is there a limit to what he can do? Will he be able to seek help on his own? Will he be able to recognize when he's falling behind or needs additional help? Should he go to school somewhere close by? Or is less than 2 hours away okay? Or is 4 hours away still okay? Too far?

Obviously, we've been researching what kinds of supports are available at each school. They do vary quite a bit. Some are what you make of them.

There's still a few more months before we need to make any decisions. Some of the difficulty is that Ethan doesn't seem to feel very strongly about any of it. He'll probably go wherever we want him to go, but I'd really love for him to have more of an emotional investment in that decision.

There's time to work on his problems solving skills, self-advocacy skills, and becoming more independent. There are even things that he could to over the summer to help prepare him. I'll try not to panic and at least he'll probably have a fair number of choices to consider this spring.

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