November 2, 2009
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.)