Parents & Families
We welcome the opportunity to help parents and families of our students understand the academic environment, accommodations we provide, and the ways we are able to support student success. We also ask for your patience in understanding that regardless of age, SAS is obligated to treat students' pesonal information as private and confidential. At the same time, parents and families are important allies who can help ensure the success of our students.
Strategies for Being Helpful
Ask questions: a sense of genuine curiosity can help to generate useful dialogue and demonstrates your interest in the student's success while respecting their autonomy.
Offer coaching: there are many skills needed for developing a healthy identity as an independent adult. Family members are often uniquely positioned to encourage self-advocacy, tenacity, personal insight, and organization skills (to name but a few).
Have high but reasonable expectations: our greatest learning often happens when we strive to reach high, yet attainable goals.
Demonstrate compassion for setbacks: many students struggle with overcoming the emotions associated with setbacks, and yet, these experiences are almost always an essential component of achieving a high level of success.
Allow students to set their own course: for example, it is not uncommon for students to choose to take a reduced courseload or change academic programs. In fact, we have often found that if this helps to make the workload more manageable, or the field of study more engaging, then motivation goes up and students are more successful.
If the student in your family needs assistance in getting to an appointment, consider remaining in the waiting room. Sometimes students have difficulty articulating the details of a specific concern, and when this is the case it may be helpful to relay key information the SAS Advisor. By the same token, we have often found that if the parent remains engaged for the whole time, then the student is frequently less invested in resolving their own concerns.
Let us know when there are serious problems: if you feel there is a high degree of danger for the safety or well-being of one of our students, this is helpful information to know as it allows us to deal with the most pressing concerns first.
Boundaries and Limits
Avoid checking email, choosing courses, or booking appointments on behalf of the student. We have often found that this undermines the student's self-confidence, and limits their growth in taking responsibility for their own affairs.
By the same token, you can coach them on how to call or stop by to book an appointment. Sometimes this might feel like a slower process because it is less direct, but it is also an investment in helping the student to develop a sense of control over their own life. Similarly, it may be helpful to assist them in finding the words to let us know if we have not met their needs or expectations.
We often suggest that parents and families should only offer to intervene or act on behalf of a student when that individual is completely unable to do so for themselves due to the limitions caused by their disability.
Transition is a Process
The transition to being an independent adult is emotionally charged for many young people and their families. Layering in a disability can sometimes make it even more challenging. It is a process that takes time; stay engaged in it, and be kind to yourself.
Know that one of the central issues during this transition in life is figuring out how expressions of love and being needed have changed in your relationship. It's not that you are loved less, or that you love them less, but rather it is a matter of new ways of expressing it. Shifting from "doing for" to "offering encouragement" involves developing a new set of skills. You are, nevertheless, incredibly important in the life of the student in your family.