How to Think Positive About Transition
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How to Think Positive About Transition

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

by Jennifer Griffith, Director

Somewhere between sophomore and junior year of high school, parents and their children often begin to think about college. Many questions start to emerge in the new process and it is often filled with a slew of emotions ranging from excitement to fear.

Zach driving at CLE Costa Mesa

These emotions are completely normal and a level of uncertainty can often taint what should be an exciting time in your young adult’s life. Now consider an additional layer, your young adult has special needs. In this article, we will help you reframe these experiences and emotions with some sound advice and offer a rejuvenated perspective on how to view your “exceptional” student’s transition to college.

Reframing is a technique in which one reevaluates how they are thinking or feeling about a situation that is causing them to feel and think negatively. Let’s review some questions/thoughts that often come to mind as your special needs child approaches their transition to college. Through reframing we will circumvent the uncertainty and steer towards preparedness.

Question: Will my child be ready for college?

Reframed Question: What can my child and I do now to best transition into college?

Tip: Begin allowing your student to complete tasks with less prompting. Some examples could include waking up on their own, taking medication independently, or cooking a meal for the family.

Thought: I don’t think my child will be successful in college.

Reframed Thought: What supports do I need to put in place to see my child succeed? Tutors, social mentors, etc. may be a solution.

Tip: Research not only colleges, but also the support systems in place for students with learning challenges.


Thought: I worry that my child will not be able to make or sustain relationships on the college campus.

Reframed Thought: I will focus on teaching my student the necessary social skills to be able to foster friendships with their peers and develop relationships with their professors.

Tip: Expose your student to different social environments, including those that allow the student to stay overnight with friends or participate in an organized activity like an overnight camp.


Question: My child has a disability-will this prevent him/her from doing well in school?

Reframed Question: How can I coach my child to understand their disability and learn to —advocate for their needs on the college campus?

Tip: Encourage your student to advocate for their needs in all settings including their IEP meetings, the classroom, at home and in the community.

By using reframing, we are steering away from the negative perceptions and looking at productive manners in which to best prepare your child. This type of effort will hopefully assuage any undue feelings and motivate you to embrace this time in your child’s life. At CLE, we believe in endless possibilities of our students and are here to support you through this process.

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