When your child is entering a new phase of their life, there is always anxious anticipation – whether your child is “typically developed” (this is the PC way of saying normal… whatever that means….) or has special needs. But there is a huge piece of the puzzle that goes into “our” children succeeding. They have been nurtured, cajoled, supported and “therapied” to get to this point. In Henry’s case, he has always been in a private, small and heavily supported environment. And so, on Tuesday of last week, Henry and I attended an information session at Durham College put on by the Center for Students with Disabilities. We were about to enter the “Bigs”! It occurred to me at one point, that had he not had as many supports up to this point, we might not be in this room.
Before coming to this seminar, I had actively surfed the website of the college for information. I had also called the school to speak to someone in the CSD (Center for Students with Disabilities). I felt I was armed with the information necessary to convince Henry that he absolutely needed the services that were available – he was dubious, by the way.
The presentation began – 2 hours in the morning from various reps in the Center. What was most interesting to me was a panel of students from the College who were presently using the services of the CSD. One had “tried” college 2 times before and had been unsuccessful. This time he used the services at the CSD and was doing very well. The other 3 students talked about how helpful it was that they had emotional support as well from their advisors. By the way, the CSD is set up to help anyone with a diagnosed learning disability, but also young adults who might have some form of mental illness, whether that’s anxiety or depression. One girl spoke very openly about her troubles with anxiety and depression and it was hard to imagine this bubbly, engaging girl struggling with this. Yet here she was! A successful student who was actively involved in a sorority on campus.
After lunch, the kids and parents were separated to work in groups. The parents were asked a series of questions – the most interesting one was: “How many of you are anxious about your child coming to college?” 95% of us answered yes – no surprise… I almost snorted out loud – are you kidding me??!! We have been actively, invisibly supporting our children for their entire academic career. Now we have to let them advocate on their own – and some, like Henry, will also be living on their own for the first time. The joke in our family has always been that once Henry gets accepted somewhere, Mommy is going back to school as well. When we toured the residence, I joked that it was the perfect set-up for 2!! Two bedrooms with doors, with a common area, kitchenette and bathroom to share. I told him I’d keep him supplied with Cheerios, Tubes, bananas and Goldfish for his 4 years. Everybody but him thinks it’s funny!
There is a lot of paperwork to fill out – intake interviews to attend – and I’m sure a lot of anxieties to soothe before September (both his and mine!) But the point is – we are here!!! I never would have thought it possible 10 years ago! Have hope everyone! You never know what might be possible!