I'm sure I'm not the only person who looks back with nostalgia on my years in college. What an experience, right? Being surrounded by peers, having food at your fingertips in the dining hall, having no real responsibilities (other than going to class and doing homework which at the time felt overwhelming...how funny). College is truly a transformational time for students, filling a needed space between the structure of high school and the insanity of the real world.
But what about our students with disabilities? Do they not also need time and space to ease into post-high school life? Absolutely-- it's why we start transition planning between 14-16 years old. But now, more than ever, having a traditional college experience is possible for our students who have previously been excluded from this life-changing option.
Yes, you heard that correctly: Your student with a disability may very well be a candidate to attend college after high school.
There are now 268 college programs located in 47 states that explicitly cater to students with disabilities-- including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These programs are creating options for students with Down syndrome, autism, speech and language deficits, physical disabilities, genetic conditions, and so much more. You may be tempted to immediately think, "Well, this certainly isn't for my student, s/he's too _________ (or not __________ enough)." Hear me out here! I'm not talking about traditional universities that simply have a Disability Services office. These are universities that have programs created specifically to serve those students who would not have been able to enroll (or who would not likely have been successful while enrolled) otherwise.
The options that are available now are more inclusive than you can possibly imagine.
Because there are options in nearly every state, and because more than half of our states offer 3 or more inclusive programs, students with disabilities are not limited anymore by whatever program will agree to take them.
Students with disabilities who are interested in college are now embarking on the same journey as any other student to find the right college program for them. And for our students with disabilities finding the right fit is even more important.
This is why I am providing a copy of our College Considerations Checklist for free to my subscribers for today's Free Resource Friday! This checklist walks students (and parents!) through 8 questions that they must decide when evaluating the type of college program that is right for them. Many of the parents I work with are overwhelmed-- they never considered college for their student with a disability and they aren't sure where to start!
This checklist will help you narrow down what's important for your student and give you an idea of where to search to identify programs that will meet your student's needs.
This checklist is only available to my subscribers. If you're interested in receiving this checklist, along with future free resources, please sign up for our weekly email blast using the Subscribe button below! We can't wait to share with you.
And in the meantime, enjoy this video of a student with Down syndrome opening his college acceptance letter. How's that for a happy Friday message?