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Preparing for College Applications, etc.

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Hi! I know some of you have older kids who've been on the PANDAS route for a while, so I'm hoping maybe you can point me toward some good people or resources to bounce some things off of?

 

We attended a session at the IOCDF conference last week regarding the college application and selection process for students with OCD. It was fascinating and intimidating at the same time, but it certainly got DH and me thinking! This presenter is a consultant who helps students/families with the chosing and application process, and she advocates beginning the process as early as possible so that you have ample time to consider all the options and opportunities. Our DS will be a sophomore in high school this year, and he is definitely on a college path . . . pretty much all AP and honors courses and very studious. But he has an IEP that he utilizes less when he's healthy and more so when he's in a flare, and with only 2 years to go (and less in terms of choosing and applying), we don't want to move forward on the assumption that he'll never need any more support for anxiety or OCD in a college environment.

 

So, that IEP goes away when he enters college, and if we want to make sure that he can access any accommodations or services when he's away at school and he needs some help, we have to start sifting through the options now, apparently. While we're clinging to the hope that he will continue on his path to health and stability and not need any accommodations two years from now, it seems unwise to put all our eggs in that particular basket.

 

So, those of you with older kids, do you have any planning advice for us? Any resources or people you think we'd be wise to reach out to now, as we get things lined up?

 

Thanks!

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No practical advice from me. Just wanted to let you know about the pang in my heart as I realized one of my adopted kids is heading to college "soon"! I've spent so many (too many?) years keeping tabs on your DS and some others that they end up feeling like family. Tell him that his Aunt Laura whom he's never met can't believe he's all grown up now! :D

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Hi Nancy,

 

Although you can't get an IEP for college you CAN get a 504 plan. So that is something you can begin discussing with your current team. At my DD's school they have a year-long class they take that is specific to college applications. All of the work is done at school and they have a counselor dedicated to working with them. They even go visit two colleges together as a group. There is a book I just purchased called Preparing Students with Disabilities for College Suggess: A Practical Guide to Transition Planning by Stan F. Shaw. I have not yet read it but it looks useful.

 

Nancy

 

Hi! I know some of you have older kids who've been on the PANDAS route for a while, so I'm hoping maybe you can point me toward some good people or resources to bounce some things off of?

 

We attended a session at the IOCDF conference last week regarding the college application and selection process for students with OCD. It was fascinating and intimidating at the same time, but it certainly got DH and me thinking! This presenter is a consultant who helps students/families with the chosing and application process, and she advocates beginning the process as early as possible so that you have ample time to consider all the options and opportunities. Our DS will be a sophomore in high school this year, and he is definitely on a college path . . . pretty much all AP and honors courses and very studious. But he has an IEP that he utilizes less when he's healthy and more so when he's in a flare, and with only 2 years to go (and less in terms of choosing and applying), we don't want to move forward on the assumption that he'll never need any more support for anxiety or OCD in a college environment.

 

So, that IEP goes away when he enters college, and if we want to make sure that he can access any accommodations or services when he's away at school and he needs some help, we have to start sifting through the options now, apparently. While we're clinging to the hope that he will continue on his path to health and stability and not need any accommodations two years from now, it seems unwise to put all our eggs in that particular basket.

 

So, those of you with older kids, do you have any planning advice for us? Any resources or people you think we'd be wise to reach out to now, as we get things lined up?

 

Thanks!

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Thanks LLM and NancyD. I appreciate the warm wishes and the ideas/resources.

 

Thus far, DS's school and counselor have been very good about steering him in the right directions in preparing to be attractive to good schools via course selection, etc., and there may very well be a class, etc. in his future (I haven't asked yet, but I will when school resumes - thanks for the idea).

 

Based on the IOCDF session, though, I'm a little concerned at this point that his high school personnel aren't especially well-equipped for helping him/us pick the right schools for both challenging his intellect and interests while also offering the support services, atmosphere (challenging but probably not necessarily uber-competitive?)that will best suit him. Make sense?

 

I'm sure I could always hire this presenter and/or her firm, but I'm thinking that might be very expensive . . . but worth it? What to do! :wacko:

 

I'll definitely check out that book, though! Thanks again!

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I know exactly what you mean, Nancy. That's my primary concern. If you don't feel the counselor at his school will steer your DS to the best school for his needs then I would definitely consider hiring the consultant. You can always call and get a price. The cost might be worth it in the long run when you think about how much money goes into a 4-year college.

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http://www.iser.com/sped-college-programs.html

 

This site has a lot of listings for consultants and even a few college programs themselves--although those seem to have a lot of structure and may not be exactly suited to PANDAS. I looked into a few of these different things while trying to get to school while still in exacerbation three years ago, but none of them were the right fit for me at the time. That said, the info was good to have.

 

Hope this helps--glad you can think ahead to college :D

 

emmalily

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http://www.iser.com/sped-college-programs.html

 

This site has a lot of listings for consultants and even a few college programs themselves--although those seem to have a lot of structure and may not be exactly suited to PANDAS. I looked into a few of these different things while trying to get to school while still in exacerbation three years ago, but none of them were the right fit for me at the time. That said, the info was good to have.

 

Hope this helps--glad you can think ahead to college :D

 

emmalily

 

Thanks, Emmalily! Do you mind my asking, what did you wind up deciding to do? Did you got straight from high school to college or take some time inbetween? Did you go away to school or chose a college near home so that you could still live with or near your family? Hope you're doing well!

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This is DS19's sophomore year of college, and what we found is that you can do a lot ahead of time at the college of your choosing. Each college has a disabilities department, and I met (with my DS, because he's no longer a minor), with the Disabilities counselor. I would first decide what your child wants in a school...big, small, etc, and then talk to the disabilities department, and see what you think about what they can offer your child. We were able to arrange for special housing, for instance, (single room + single bathroom, because of his immune deficiency, and also because of his asperger's), plus he gets some modifications on coursework (which he hasn't used yet.) We also chose a school that had a local campus, so first year was living at home, and commuting.

 

Now he will be going away (with the single room), and I have to admit that my fingers are crossed, and I'm holding my breath!

 

the other thing to decide is if your child already knows what he/she wants to major in, the department itself may make a large school small (i.e. the engineering department within a very large university...most courses are taken through engineering.)

 

I am also still trying to get hold of the student health department, but just remember (thank you for prompting me) to call back again. That's one area that I'm actually kind of concerned about, because I left a message last week, and I was told the director would call me back, and as of now, she hasn't. I'll have to call again (my DS was on the phone with me last week asking, since he's still not a minor.)

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Having gone through the process, here are my thoughts:

 

  • Start the process early. Cognitive flexibility is difficult when anxious. The more think time your son has to ready himself for this transition, the better.
  • Visit schools where your son is likely to gain admission easily first. This will relieve anxiety about acceptance and free him to think about what would be the best learning environment for him.
  • Be way ahead on the standardized tests.
  • Apply for test taking accommodations now so that you can appeal decisions that you don't like. (ACT only offered half of the accommodations we requested. With further documentation, we were able to get him what we thought he needed.) In addition to extended time, your son may be eligible for segmented tests-- half on one day and the other half on another. While students who receive double time take the test in two sittings, those who get time a half are required to take the entire test in one sitting without a pre arrange additional accommodation. Your son might also benefit from test taking environment modifications.
  • The SAT subject tests have score choice. Students can retake them as many times as they want and only send colleges his best scores). These tests are only an hour long without extended time so you might want to sign him up for the January or March test date (probably Math or Literature) for practice. This shouldn't be stressful because he likely won't be sending the scores anywhere.
  • College disabilities services have much better awareness of psychological issues and provide better supports than you are probably accustomed to if your son is not in a therapeutic placement. Probably because they are not required to provide an education to everyone college support services only the playing field. As Nancy D. mentioned, your son will not have an IEP in college that includes direct services. Instead, he will be given accommodations which allow him to access the curriculum himself and demonstrate what he has learned. This orientation is often more well suited to students whose learning needs stem from anxiety rather than from more organic cognitive deficits.
  • College websites are often quite transparent. Though they vary, you can get an excellent "feel" for their general orientation and the kinds of supports that are available. Read these carefully.

 

Should your son not be ready to go begin college two years from now, you might want to consider a fifth year of high school or possibly a PG year at a nearby boarding school. This arrangement would provide many of the supports of high school while also allowing independence. He would also have an additional year to improve his academic record. Boarding schools, should you go that route, typically also provide excellent college counseling services as well.

 

If your son is academically but not emotionally ready to separate, you and he might consider his attending college close to home as a commuter for the first year with the plan to move onto campus when he's ready.

 

Please remember that the world of PANDAS is one of abrupt change. A year ago, my son couldn't go to school full time. His anxiety was so high that he was unable to participate in any after school activities or socialize with his friends. Keeping his academic house in order was so exhausting that it was all he could manage.

 

You're wise to begin to think about what supports he may need down the road, but do be aware that your efforts may turn out to have been needless.

 

Good luck and enjoy the process. This may be the last time that your voice will be the loudest.

Edited by mommybee

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