operating without an instruction manual

It’s not overwhelming enough to prepare for the graduation that Tommy was never supposed to have. Now, we have to figure out what comes next. Without help, Tommy picked out the college and major that he wants for himself. I realized he wants to live the life of a normal college student and my stomach turned inside out. It’s not a comfortable feeling. It seemed stupid to write Aspergers on his initial applications to college. “Oh look, a student who will need an unusual support system. We want him here.” The college application and admission process was like a snowball rolling down a mountain. The faster it happened, the bigger it became and there just didn’t seem to be a “right” place or time to mention that Tommy is wired differently than most students. The longer I didn’t say something, the more I felt like I was hiding a skeleton in the closet that would pop out at the worst possible moment. Then, we went to the campus open house over the weekend.

Everything went smoothly until it was time to tour the dorms. Tommy’s entire body language changed so rapidly that my mom alarm bells were echoing in my head. One open bathroom for an entire floor of residents breaks several dozen of Tommy’s rules. We have spent Tommy’s entire life pushing his buttons and deliberately trying to loosen the grip his rules have on his life. Living away from home for the first time without parents nearby is an adjustment for NT teens. It’s much bigger for Tommy. When Sarah has a problem with dorms or any aspect of college life, I will not be calling or visiting anyone. She has to and will be responsible for herself. Normal 18-year-olds don’t need their parents talking to the dorm RAs. Tommy is different. I am trying very hard not to be a crutch to Tommy, but he needs a safety net his first time on the trapeze. It’s time to get that label slapped on his file in the college administration offices. I’m not sure how to do this. I am certain that college professors should not have to talk to parents. Ever. I have to talk to support services and let them be an intermediary. I step tenderly onto the ice, hoping I do not make cracks.

3 thoughts on “operating without an instruction manual

  1. I think your best bet is support services first, they will at least be able to tell you if there is someone else you need to talk to. I wouldn’t feel too guilty – there are lots and lots of students who have some kind of special need in colleges and universities today. Have patience cuz even though they are there to help, they are still beaurocracy.

  2. Ditto on the previous comment. You’ve already done the battle with the public schools bureaucracy, you’re an expert at that. Plus, the local schools are offering services because they HAVE to, by Federal mandate. LMU will offer services because they WANT to. Big difference there!

    You and he will do fine. You have already established a firm foundation for him, and he has achieved so much more on his own. Go forth, be confident, and know that if he stumbles or even falls, you all will be more than able to hop up, dust off and get back into the game

  3. UGH! I feel for you! It is overwhelming enough for any parent; I’m sure you have prepared him well. I am also sure his new lving arrangements will work with him. I would contact student services and request a counselor for T.

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