One Parent’s Story of Transition and Letting Go
Home BlogProgram NewsOne Parent’s Story of Transition and Letting Go
no image

One Parent’s Story of Transition and Letting Go

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future

By Mary King, Campus and Community Liaison

All parents who have sent their children off to college can relate to the excitement and anxiety surrounding this life change. As parents, we never stop worrying about them even when we’re confident that they’ll do well. In this article, Trudy, one of our current parents, shares her experience with her daughter, Rachel’s transition.

What did you do to start preparing Rachel for the transition?

We kept reminding Rachel that CLE will give her a college experience and an opportunity to learn how to be independent. We also tried to get Rachel engaged by having her decide on the items she wanted to take from home for her apartment.

Rachel and her parents

What did the transition look like?

Like many on the autism spectrum, change is difficult for Rachel and the CLE transition was difficult for her. I would say she had quite a bit of anxiety, fear, and even some anger.

What was the hardest part of making the transition?

Probably the separation anxiety. Rachel had not been away from home/family for an extended period of time and it was difficult for her being away from Mom and Dad, having to make decisions, and speak for herself. While we would love to call and talk to Rachel every day, we thought it would be better to limit our phone conversations and use more texting.

The easiest?

For me, having the comfort of knowing that the CLE staff is trained and experienced in dealing with difficult transitions and the emotions Rachel was expressing. For Rachel, I think it helps that her aunt and uncle live in Austin and she gets to see them on Sundays for church.

What have some of her successes been so far?

Making more decisions on her own and speaking for herself; walking to fast food restaurants and ordering food on her own; learning to make transportation reservations and even scheduling a trip to go shopping on her own at Barnes and Noble.

Rachel at CLE Austin

What have some of her struggles been so far?

Getting over the separation anxiety and having to make decisions about social activities. Fortunately both of these are getting much easier on Rachel, but the first few weeks were pretty rough. I think it was the first or second week when she told her aunt that she had “tried this enough and wanted to go home,” which obviously was not going to happen. Fast forward about 2 months and when asked if she liked being in Austin her response was “a little”. For Rachel to say “a little” is actually a really big step.

What did CLE do that helped your family and Rachel handle the transition?

Having a designated person to contact and communicate with really helps. The Parent Portal reports are also helpful for the family—especially during the first weeks. For Rachel, it is probably the connection with the CLE staff that has helped the most.

What advice would you give to other parents who are preparing for the same transition?

Realize that there are going to be bumps along the way, but the CLE support system is there to help minimize the bumps and use them as a learning experience.

Since starting CLE in January, Rachel has learned how to make those day-to-day decisions for herself, advocate for her choices, and take the steps needed to make those choices happen. Her recent triumphs include cooking a spaghetti dinner all by herself, independently making a trip—public transportation included—to a favorite location, and earning straight A’s in all her classes.

Newsletter Articles – March 2015

Getting help with transition to college

Beginning the discussion about what happens after graduation can start as early as middle school, but will most definitely coincide with the student’s first transition IEP plan. It should be a discussion between students, parents and guidance staff from high school. Students can contribute information about their interests, strengths, challenges, and career of choice. School guidance counselors can contribute information about college or technical school options, potential academic courses of study, entrance requirements, and the admission process including SATs and other standardized testing that will be required. School counselors might also have information about other types of post-secondary programs including gap year programs, apprenticeships, and internships. Parents can contribute by encouraging their son or daughter to take an active role in this process, being open to their ideas, and providing constructive feedback to help guide their decisions.

Maddie - learning executive functioning at CLE

What’s next? As students transition out of high school, they face this question—and it’s a big one. While it can be exciting to entertain the new possibilities and opportunities at this time, it can also be daunting. For life as an adult after high school comes with many hard decisions: What college should I go to? What should I major in? What career do I pursue? What schools and jobs are even available to me? How do I pay for school? Do I work on the side? Where will I live? How do I support myself?

Academic Supports at CLE

For many students, the most challenging aspect of college is identifying what academic supports are available, and how to find them. College students must take the initiative to find and apply for the support services that will be beneficial to their academic success. Each college campus has various offices that are designed to support students academically, some offer services that are available to all enrolled students and some can only be accessed by specific students based on need.

Drew at CLE DC - culinary student

“Going from high school to college was a big transition. The transition to the “real world” was a bit nerve-wracking, but I made a choice to be excited to move onto something big,” says Drew. That something big was moving to Rockville, MD to attend college and join College Living Experience. Since joining CLE in 2012, Drew has made significant strides toward his ultimate goal of independence, including taking classes at college, participating in three culinary arts internships, living in his own apartment and making new friends in a new community. Based on his experience, Drew gives advice to students about how to make the transition to life beyond high school a good one.

CLE Locations

With 6 centers around the nation, people often ask us, “What are the differences in your centers?”, and “What makes each center unique?” We would love to take the time this month to highlight each of our centers’ educational options, housing information, and some fun student and center facts.

The post One Parent’s Story of Transition and Letting Go appeared first on College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future.