Post Secondary Education

Post Secondary Education

If you are considering a community college or four year institution for your loved one with an FASD, take into account developmental age in determining when this step may be a good fit for her or him and when.  Even a community college certificate program may be a big step from high school in terms of independence expected, size of classes, etc.  When those who are neurotypical attend college, they tend to be in the 16-18 developmental age range.  As you have read in literature about those with an FASD, the developmental age can be up to one half of the chronological age.  Would you send a 12 year old to college, even as a commuter living at home?

The “gaps years,” the year or more between high school and college, can be utilized to develop independence, continue taking high school courses; students with a disability can stay in high school as long as they are 21 years of age on the first day of the academic year.  Some individuals may balk at this idea because of the expectation that everyone is out of high school at 18, but even part time attendance and taking electives can be growth producing and gives the person a chance to shorten the difference in developmental age and chronological age.  Other choices include certificate programs such as those mentioned in the Transitioning to Adulthood tab of this website.  Most community colleges have certificate programs and the pace of movement through those programs, as with most colleges, can be determined by the need of the individual.

It should be noted that all college campuses are mandated to have a disabilty office.  Unfortunately, as with many mandates, the extent to which the mandate is achieved may vary appropriate advocacy imay be needed.  With a physician’s statement of disability, accommodations can be requested. Your contact with the disability office will be affected by how your rights as a parent change when your child is 18 or older, unless you have guardianship (see Legal Representation tab) or your son or daughter signs a waiver entitling you to have access to some college records. FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law enacted in 1974; it protects the privacy of student education records. All educational institutions that receive federal funding must comply with FERPA.  If your child allows you to go the disability office with him/her and participate in the conversation, you will have a greater impact on the accommdations than if you do not attend.  Also, accompanying your student to meetings at the college, including with an academic advisor, allows you to serve as a “cognitive translator” or “external brain.”  You can help her/him understand the procedures, regulations, etc. provided by the college official.  If you are not present, you will not know whether your student is portraying what is communicated in an accurate manner; this, of course, is due to brain damage:  processing and less than ideal executive functions.  If your child does not allow you to go to the meetings with them, most colleges offer an orientation for parents where you can gain information about policies and procedures, etc.  

Think College is an organization which encourages the development, expansion, and improvement of inclusive programs for those with IDDs at the collegiate level.  Over 250 campuses are included in their data base. These programs do not result in a bachelors degree, but provide a college experience for your son/daughter with classes that help them develop lifeskills and employment opportunities. 

It is important to remember that FASD is  indeed a spectrum disorder and while one individual may be able be successful in one of the above options, the fit for others may not be appropriate.  Discussing this with teachers and others that know your son or daughter well may guide you in how you talk to him or her about these life decisions.