Information for Parents

Over the years you’ve watched your baby grow and learn, marking each milestone, if not in a memory book, then etched in your heart. Now he or she is ready to mark one of the greatest milestones yet—college and career. Perhaps your child is currently in high school preparing for that jubilant jaunt across the stage at graduation. Perhaps your child is emerging into adulthood attempting to sort out his or her future with all the possibilities that college, career, and an independent self-determined life in the community can bring. At either stage, these most certainly are exciting times for the both of you!

However, your child is not the only one transitioning. You are too! You are entering a new phase of your life, growing older, confronting your own future as your child prepares to launch into adulthood. Over the last 12 years you’ve mastered how to assure your child a “free appropriate public education”, attended countless meetings to develop your child’s Individualized Education Plan and advocated for them every step of the way. Now as your child enters college and the adult service delivery systems, you leave behind those mandated services for what may appear as a completely new world of “eligibility. You may hear, “There are no IEPs in college!” and wonder what that means for your child. Gaining the knowledge and understanding of the college systems and support services will help make your child’s transition into adulthood smoother.

Your role as a parent of a transitioning college student with a disability is very crucial. It is important for you to understand that college is a radical change from high school. Supports and services you and your child have become accustomed to in public school will not be the same as in college. Your child will leave behind routines and supports structured to assure not only access but also success. In college, your child will face complicated academic and social environments without the benefit of constant reminders to take medication, finish homework, go to bed at a reasonable time, and attend classes whether or not he or she feels like it. From elementary through high school, your child had benefit of structured constant interaction from teachers and your hands-on help at home. Now your child will need to rely on the self-sufficiency and self-determination skills taught throughout his or her life to independently ask for support and accommodations, meet class assignment deadlines, become involved in campus social and academic life, and care for personal necessities.

Ways in which you can mentor and support your child with disabilities entering the college setting include:

Students need to have a copy of their health insurance card. Primary care services are available free on campus Monday through Friday. Students with complex medical conditions should know their doctor’s name and address and when they should make an appointment. If a student is coming from out of town and needs specialized care, it is strongly recommended that a specialist be found and met with and records transferred before school begins.