I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6
I remember years ago when my son Charlie was just under two years old, before his autism diagnosis, we had started a 529 Savings Plan for both of my children to help save towards college. I was excited that we were starting early and hopeful by doing this we would be able to pay for their college years later without them struggling with loans. Month after month we deposited the monies they recommended we put in to ensure our two kids had enough to pay their tuition and fees down the road.
Well little did I know just over a year later we would hear, "Your child has autism." I remember early on when I was going through the checklist of things we needed to tackle, college was one of those. In fact at the initial diagnosis that was my husband's first question, "Will my son be able to go to school or even college?" I recall a few months after the diagnosis asking myself, should we stop putting money in this account? At this time, my hope was not so big. I was still grappling with what the future may look like and trying to learn about autism
My son is now fifteen years old and he has made such great progress. We still have many goals to achieve and to work towards but I can actually see him being able to walk across that stage and receive his high school diploma. We are all as a family trying to reach that goal together. If he can't get there, that is ok too. I, more importantly, want my son to graduate with self-confidence, independence, and be able to self-advocate. I realized as we get closer to this goal there are more options for our children after graduation than there were when he was diagnosed over 10 years ago. I am so grateful.
Some of the colleges or institutions that support students moderately or higher to continue their education or life skills/independence skills:
- University of Central Florida: Orlando, Florida http://ies.sdes.ucf.edu/ Inclusive Education Services
- Think College: http://www.thinkcollege.net/ College options for people with Intellectual Disabilities
- REACH Program in Charleston, South Carolina http://reach.cofc.edu/ College is Possible!
- ClemsonLife http://www.clemson.edu/education/culife/
- Coastline Community College http://www.coastline.edu/students/students-with-disabilities/intellectual-disabilities/ Fountain Valley, California
These are just some schools to check out, but there are so many now and even big schools that are including and supporting our kids. I love to see this!
Also, there is support financially to help your child, just go to https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/intellectual-disabilities and learn more about aid/scholarships/grants and other support available.
God has big plans for our kids. There are no limits ever! You may need to keep working toward goals, but I know God may have different paths for our kids and if we go to him in prayer daily He will guide us to help them.