To the Parents of the Disabled Child Going Off to College Out of State…..

I’m not a parent of a human, so I can’t completely understand what you are going through, but my parents went through this when I broke family tradition and attended college out-of-state. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Of course It wasn’t something I was looking to do, but when the Lord clearly speaks to your heart, following through is the best option.

Our graduating class was tiny and close. I was quite anxious about moving away to college. Especially since most of my friends would not be joining me. Thankfully my parents supported my decision and were proactive in helping me have a great experience. That is my first piece of advice:

1. Support your child’s decision. Supporting them is one step in helping them maintain independence. If money is a concern, help your child research possible scholarships to defray the cost.

2. Also do some research on doctors in the area that would help with your child’s specific needs. I needed a urologist, an orthopedist,¬†and a neurologist. Fortunately the tiny town I landed in for my first two years of college had all three. We were even able to visit with them during a college visit.

3. If you child has issues walking long distance, look into purchasing a battery operated scooter. This will save your child’s joints in traversing large campuses that may have many hills. This will also help carry all their¬†books. Of course cost is a big hindrance, so look into Vocational Rehabilitation services in your area for assistance. We were able to purchase a battery operated scooter through Voc. Rehab right before I entered college and it was a life saver many times.

4. Now is a great time to contact your child’s college’s Student Life office to talk to them about your child’s specific needs. During a visit, you’ll be able to see if there are things that may need to be modified in terms of accessibility. Bring this up during the visit and when you call, check up on any progress that has been made.

5. Ok, this one is universal and doesn’t just apply to those with a disability: Before you send your child off to college out-of-state, grab a small notebook and write down things they need to remember. For example, remind them what clothes have to be dry-cleaned or hung on a rack to dry. If they are disabled and have medical equipment to care for, include that as well. Divide the notebook into sections such as laundry and equipment maintenance and put sticky flags on each section. My mom did this for me and it was SO handy when I was in college. I even used it after graduation.

Leaving a child at college, especially a disabled child, can be hard on parents. With these 5 tips, I hope it helps you cope. Remember, you are not alone!