November 2, 2009

Think College!

Hannah's been talking about going to college for the past four years, starting when Kate was doing her applications. She hasn't stopped yet, so I think this is a goal of hers.

I have casually been looking out for colleges that have programs for individuals with cognitive disabilities. More and more schools are creating dynamic programs ranging from self-help courses to inclusive academic classes. I know there is a program at George Mason University (about 2 hours away from us), but I don't know much about it. While working at the Buddy Walk I met a young woman whose brother has Ds. He is graduating from the program this coming spring. She said that he just LOVES everything about it.

There is another program starting at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA (2 hours the other direction). And I know there are many more options around the country.

A couple months ago I came across this website: Think College. I got so excited! There are programs that range from 6 months -4 years. The programs that really got my attention are at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). One is a residential, 2-year, non-degree program. The other is a program that is based at the Vanderbilt Hospital, and provides 6 months of training in various departments in the hospital, usually resulting in being hired by the hospital. One of my leanings towards Vanderbilt is because there is a fair chance that James' job may move him at some point in the future, and Nashville is a likely candidate (but it could be anywhere, or, we could just stay here for years, who knows?). The other thing is that it's the first program I've seen that specifically focuses on medical careers. Over the years Hannah has determined that she wants to be some kind of doctor/dentist/vet. I know, she's just a kid, but she's been after this for more than half her life.

I had a vague plan on how to get her into a medical job, mostly using Chris (who plans on medical school after he graduates from William and Mary). I figured he could find a job for her somewhere--in his own office or lab. But then, he may end up in Australia (literally), and I don't know if I'm up for THAT much independence (for either of them!). So this Vanderbilt program is really exciting to me!


I remember back when Nan was first born. A friend asked me how I felt about knowing that Hannah would always live with me. I didn't hesitate for a second. "She's not living with me forever--she's moving out! It might take her a little longer, but she's leaving to live her own life." I always figured that she'd probably be ready to move out when she was in her mid-20s. I don't know if that will pan out or not, but I think it's a realistic goal. When I compare how much she's learned up until now I think she has a good shot at being quite self-determined. I have no doubts that she will need supports--at this point I don't see her trajectory including independence regarding finances. And I'm not so sure about driving a car. I'm not saying that she won't or can't do these things, but I don't see them happening without lots and lots of motivation on her part. At least not in her early adulthood.

Anyway, I wanted to share the college website and let your imaginations run with all the options out there. More and more opportunities....I want her to be able to dream, and I want to know that I can help make her dreams come true.

(Wow, I think I need a "syrup sweetness" font for that last sentence! I wonder if there's a way to make it sound less sappy, but yet still say the same thing.)....thinking.... (The answer is yes, there is a way, but I'm leaving it the way it is because this is my blog and I'd rather think about what a "sappy font" might look like than edit.)


15 comments:

Brandie said...

Independence, its a big deal in our house. We don't know at what level it will be, but we want Goldie to have a life that is all her own. I grew up with an uncle (CP, autism) that never left home or had any outside interests. I know he could have done so much more. I think its great that you are already finding these opportunities of Hannah. Imagine what another 10 years could bring her way!

Adrienne said...

This is great! Thanks for sharing this, it's so encouraging and I bet Hannah will be doing all of those things and more! I agree, something in the medical field would be great. LOL-and you're not being too sappy, we just know you love your daughter;)

mauimom said...

How exciting! I am excited for Hannah and for my little guy thinking about what it could possibly mean for him. It takes a lot of people many years to finally figure out their passion in life (some never do), so good for Hannah has a passion for the medical field. We should love what we do!

Anonymous said...

Lived in Nashville for 12 years before moving to Atlanta area. Love that idea of Vanderbilt. Great hospital (my nephew spent some time there) and great area of town. They have a way to go towards public transportation but there are some options. Will keep it on my radar for Sawyer. Thanks for sharing.

Jan

datri said...

Wonderful and exciting!

Lianna said...

I think your great expectations of Hannah will not only be met, but exceeded. I must research for college/university programs in Canada! I, too, envision Gabriel a man on his own.

Beverly said...

great post! When we lived in PA we went to hear a few young adults with ds and their parents speak and they were all going to college. I love thinking about this too for Noah. But, him moving out... I have a hard time with that one!

Holly S/NC said...

We have talked about this quite a few times for our kids, Beth. And I have to say that as Jacob gets older, I am more and more encouraged about his level of independence. Yes, he and Hannah will make it at some point!

I love the idea of medical school for Hannah. She would love that! Now, if I could just find a college specializing is letting Jacob play computer games. (smile) I will follow up on those leads. Thanks, as always!

Sonia said...

Independence...YES! I really want Lillian to have it to! However, her daddy says it's a BIG NO! I see trouble in my future.

Catherine said...

This is why I'm so glad I met you, Beth. You and Hannah are our mentors. We're learning so much from you!!

Wendy P said...

I love the last line just like it is.

I want both of my children to live independently and have happy lives (whatever that means to them) - anything beyond that is gravy.

Off to check out the college link - thank you!

alaskamama said...

such a great outlook Beth! You go girls!!!
independence, independence, independence...that's the key...why else wld we be stuffin' them full of vits, good food, experiences and all the other good stuff us moms do...
want the same for Rob...
great post....thanks for sharing...like the profile hat too...I'm a hat person too!!
blessings
gri from snowy Alaska!

Dawn said...

I loved reading this post. While college and moving out are not options for my Taylor, it warms my heart to hear the possibilities of others.

Oh, and I agree with alaskamama, great hat!

Dianne said...

Wow, Beth what a great post! We wish the same things for our Ellie - independence and a future of possibilities that includes college if she wants it. I love the last line (and imagine a sappy font) as it is. I have bookmarked and will check out the think college website.

Jill said...

I've been seeing ThinkCollege.net for a while now- I love it! And I think the last line is perfect just the way it is. :)
Jill