Parents & Families

Parents and families are important allies who can help ensure the success of our students. SAS welcomes 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' personal information as private and confidential.

Strategies for Being Helpful

  • Ask questions: a sense of genuine curiosity can generate useful dialogue and demonstrates your interest in the student's success

  • Offer coaching: 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 emotionally with setbacks, and yet, these experiences are almost always an essential part of achieving a high level of success.

  • Allow students to set their own course: for example, it is common for students to choose to take a reduced courseload or change academic programs. If reducing the courseload makes the workload more manageable, or the field of study more engaging, motivation goes up and students are more successful.

  • Stay close, but not too close: if the student in your family needs assistance to get to an appointment, consider remaining in the waiting room. 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, please let us 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. This often undermines the student's self-confidence and limits their growth in taking responsibility for their own affairs. Instead, 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, you can help them find 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 limitations caused by their disability.

Transition is a Process

The transition from adolescence to independent adulthood 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 and be kind to yourself.  

One of the central issues during this transition in life is figuring out how your relationship to your child has changed. You will discover that you and your child will find different, new ways of expressing love. 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.