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anyone headed to UCONN using Beyond Access Program or just ASD?

Son is going as an honors student starting with 3 days a week support (in case he needs it). I've met with the Director of the disabilities office and was impressed with their approach, working in partnership, though I am hoping to need to be involved less and less.

I'm "meeting" such supportive UCONN parents, but have yet to meet one whose kid's going to be in the program or has gone through the program. Son's on the FB page for class of 2022, but all the kids seem to be athletic and tapped into the culture, and that's not him, so I'd love to hook him up with a quirky kid who might get him.
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Replies to: anyone headed to UCONN using Beyond Access Program or just ASD?

  • ctparent2019ctparent2019 31 replies10 threads Junior Member
    Hi. Just curious, fid yoir son start at Uconn eith thrir Beyond Access program?
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  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom 152 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Yes, he's there now. He says it's going well, they have reminded him to check his email (I know because I monitored his email for him and now I see he checks it. He now texts and emails back when we send him something). I think he's on target with his schoolwork, reports that he got an A on his first test. We assumed we'd have to Skype with him on homework, but in a month, we've never done that. Has a D&D group going on his floor, seems to get along well or well enough with his roommate. Honestly so over the moon that he's spreading his wings and soaring and wondering if we did a bit of clipping of the wings while he was here.

    Have resisted the urge to check in with the Office of Disabilities, but I had a lot of questions right before to make sure that he was set up, and they were so friendly and responsive!
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  • ctparent2019ctparent2019 31 replies10 threads Junior Member
    I don't even know you but I'm so happy for you. That must be a great feeling. I hope he has a great year. My son had all his apps ready for a long list of schools and then we were hit by a diagnosis of Asperger's not too long ago so we are adjusting expectations. I'm very focused on Uconn right now for him and welcome any insights you can give about the Beyond Access program. Also looking at RPI, WPI, RIT, Stevens et al. At what point in application/accepted student process did you tell Uconn he needed supports? And would you recommend staying away from any schools you got to know last year?
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  • taverngirltaverngirl 1612 replies45 threads Senior Member
    Joining the conversation because i have a ds20 with recently diagnosed ADHD, doesn't want to medicate, looking at engineering at some of the schools @ctparent2019 listed. He very much likes UConn (in our backyard so not my first choice, but it's his decision so...) If it does end up being UConn I will definitely look into this program. Am so glad to hear about @overbearingmom's ds who is spreading his wings and soaring, and I'm hoping that is the case for my son as well once he begins his college life.
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  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom 152 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I don't have a lot of insight into the program itself, because my son is not the font of information, but the Director of the program is fabulous!

    My son and I went to RIT for an Open House on a Saturday and Husky for a Day at UCONN on the following Monday on Veteran's Day weekend. A year ago already, wow, and coincidentally, I'm going to visit again on Veteran's Day.

    I didn't have the chance to talk to anyone one-on-one as it was an Open Session, but I did have a quick minute after the session was over with the presenters and their approach seemed to be "they are adults, they need to advocate for themselves". Yes, but they are adults with a disability...I did talk during the process with a woman whose kid was at RIT and was doing well, but the kid was reluctant to take advantage of the services. My son is not, plus he knows I'm cheap and if I'm paying for it, I want him to get everything out of it. I do have a friend with a sophomore there (undiagnosed quirky) and struggled early in her freshman year without these services, and is now using the services, though they are tight lipped about it. But she is definitely doing better.

    With UCONN, I too was able to talk to a mom whose kid had gone through UCONN with Beyond Access and she was raving about it. She said they would do welfare checks if your kid did not check in (we haven't had to do that, thankfully). She had a working relationship with the Director and introduced us by email and I was able to meet with her while my son went shadowing. My son had done shadowing before in High School because we have the choice of 3 high schools in the area, but I highly recommend they do Husky for a Day, Anyway, the Director put my mind at ease. They said they let the profs know they are "one of their kids", but the kid needs to go to the prof for any help/accommodation and of course, they can give them some help before that happens. Hasn't been needed so far that I know of. They also said that "If something is going on that we can't put our finger on, we'll reach out and you'll talk to your kid/know your kid better than we do, so if something's going on at home or with your kid that you think we should know, we want to hear from you". That made MY decision for me. I had to wait 6 months for him to make the same decision.

    We didn't mention it in the application process, but I did reach out to the Director right after he made his decision and once again, she was gracious as could be. I sent her questions about Orientation, about move in, and now about losing things/Thanksgiving and she has been responsive and helpful.

    @taverngirl I get what you are saying about wanting to send him farther, and I totally get that because he almost went an hour a way and if he had and had any of these little issues, I would have been tempted to go and help, but it's about the best fit for him. UCONN is an amazing school, and has so many activities and such a wonderful school spirit.

    Happy to chat via phone if either of you are interested, maybe a little later in the process would be better, but still. Feel free to PM me.
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  • taverngirltaverngirl 1612 replies45 threads Senior Member
    @overbearingmom thanks so much for the detailed info! We are going to UConn's open house this weekend and will look for the Beyond Access people to introduce my son to the program and get add'l info. We are also checking out RIT. Are you aware of any other schools that have these types of programs in place?
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  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom 152 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @taverngirl I have heard that the U of A and University of Utah programs are very highly regarded. Rutgers has a program, University of Denver has a program (but it is very expensive, and even with $25k merit aid/yr was $55K for us out of state + the program. I did actually check out the "program" at UC Santa Barbara. They and UCLA have Autism centers for kids on the spectrum, and I think that UCSB is now starting to build a program for their kids who are now college age. But to me, they were not ready out of the box for my son's needs.

    For us, we looked at "top state schools and a few private schools in locations he liked". He had the ultimate choice and ruled out many for location/no program in his major/missing clubs he wanted.

    http://collegeautismspectrum.com/collegeprograms/ Not sure why the ones I mentioned aren't on the list (how wonderful that there is a list at all!
    https://www.collegechoice.net/rankings/best-colleges-for-students-with-autism <<may be out of date because UCONN's program is Beyond Access.
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  • gatspygirlgatspygirl 39 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Hi @overbearingmom ! Just wondering how the remainder of the semester went for your son? Sounds as if it was going well and that is amazing. My S is now a senior so it is crunch time. UCONN is not on our list as he wanted to be somewhat close to home but was wondering what worked and did not work for your son given the resources provided. We have pretty much narrowed the list down to 3. One has an existing program for kids with ASD but it is our large sate flagship, one is a private jesuit school that has a program rolling out next fall but I am afraid it will be too "new" (kind of like UCSB was for you) and the other is a small LAC about 30 min from home, No special services for kids with ASD at that LAC but quirky, diverse student body and close to home so good for him to decompress if need be. Like you, I am weary of the schools that do not want any parent involvement. If I am shelling out big bucks, I would like to be in the loop so things do not get so far gone that there is no turning back. Another LAC that would be a great fit really makes it sound on their website that they do not want parent involvement. As much as I love the school, that gives me pause so it has fallen off our list for now.

    I think I just want to hear a good success story so hope you can share some great news:)
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  • ctparent2019ctparent2019 31 replies10 threads Junior Member
    Again, to anyone in this thread who has a student at UCONN navigating the ASD program there (or RIT, WPI, etc.) could you reply and let us know how UCONN has delivered? We're considering Adelphi not so much for their academics but bc they have a terrific program in place for kids on the spectrum. They have professor(s) there who are on the spectrum and self ID as such. My student is a senior too and I am racing to find the best environment for him.
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  • retiredfarmerretiredfarmer 1226 replies3 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    @ctparent2019

    Looking over the WPI website the best I could do was to locate an office which should have real answers.

    See https://www.wpi.edu/student-experience/resources/disability-services

    With a general search I did located a lot of research projects related to ASD as part of student projects.
    edited February 2019
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  • uniquefirsttryuniquefirsttry 65 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Yes @overbearingmom let us know how you and your son are doing!
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  • Kitt122Kitt122 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Hi, My son is currently a junior and we are starting to look at schools. He is ASD, very smart, but very quirky and shy. He wants to study computer science and I believe he can handle the academics. I'm more worried about him socially. He might need a little push to get involved with activities. Do any of these ADS programs help the kids with the social aspects or have any activities for the students in the program so they can meet each other? We live in NY and are planning to visit UConn, Rutgers, RIT, and Adelphi in the coming months. Any info on these or any other programs would be greatly appreciated!
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  • uniquefirsttryuniquefirsttry 65 replies5 threads Junior Member
    I am trying to help my student decide between Uconn and RIT. Uconn was not my dream school for him but their Beyond Access has been unbelievably responsive to my inquiries and their program appears to be custom made for my son. It is also very close to our home and his therapist. They even allowed me to come in an dmeet with them and when I did there was no hard sell but they said all the right things w/o me even having to ask. RIT, while my son's dream school, has a spectrum support program but they didn't even want me to stop by. They said there was "nothing to see". They didn't seem to pick up on the fact that our family's decision would be contingent on the ASD support the college would have in place. Could anyone here chime in a let me know what you know with regard to Uconn vs. RIT? Oh he wants to do Aerospace Engineering which is stronger at RIT than Uconn. I think. I mean, I don't even understand that much about getting an engineering degree except that it sounds awfully hard and the student has no life. He would not consider any LACs though he applied to Union and Syracuse. Got into both those but Uconn and RIT are cheaper, and have the ASD support. Help!
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  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom 152 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @uniquefirsttry My son is at UCONN and THRIVING. He's in the honors dorm and has mostly A's. He meets with a grad student 2 times a week (they offer 1 or 3, he did three first semester, but they both agreed he only needed 2 second semester). He is much more self sufficient and he is more engaged with life skills.

    The director of the program is amazing and will answer any question you have, but honestly after the first few weeks, I never had to.

    I had the same experience you had at RIT. We went to Husky for a Day and an open house at RIT, and I've spoken to parents at both. I just didn't get a great feeling for their ASD support. The student at RIT was reluctant to seek help though, and my son had no problem with it. I have a friend whose kid is nondiagnosed at RIT and socially she is doing well, but really struggled freshman year, before and after being in their program. Happy to connect you with them, but I'm not sure how engaged they are with the support program.

    I don't know that much about the Engineering school, does he qualify for the Honors Program. I hear the engineering program is rigorous. My son is a Linguistics major.

    I love UCONN to the point I am encouraging my daughter to apply this year (we live in CA). Would be happy to speak with you.

    Only you know your kid. Based on what I've seen, though the program isn't as strong, you want him to be successful, and I personally think he has a better shot for that at UCONN. Can he transfer into RIT after he has his spectrum stuff more in hand?
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  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom 152 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @gatspygirl @ctparent2019 @Kitt122 sorry I haven't been on for a while and for some reason, I didn't get notifications in my email. I'm back to go through the college process with my neurotypical daughter.

    As stated above, my son is doing so great at UCONN. Part of it is that he HAS to, being all the way on the other side of the country. But the UCONN program is amazing. He meets twice a week with a grad student who helps him organize his assignments, but I think at this point he's doing that on his own. He's writing for the school paper! He's even considering going on a solo trip to Boston at the end of the school year.

    And having watched on TV the Women's basketball tournament (didn't go all year, even when the tickets were free), he's going to go to more of the college games next year.

    He's not that social, but when he came home for Christmas, he talked about a few friends all the time. He's going random for a roommate again next year (his roommate was fine, if not a little socially incompatible - they did have a standing D&D game with friends in their dorm), but he'll be on the same floor as his friend.

    So, in summary, I cannot speak more highly for UCONN. I am a Husky mom through and through. As for other places, just try to get clarity as to what specifically happens in the program, how functional they expect your kid to be (at UCONN, they were open to wherever the child was in terms of impairment, if you don't live close, they will go and check on your student, they are open to parent involvement, though I think you should try to limit it unless you have to, for your kid's sake. At RIT, I got the impression that they were looking for them to be pretty functional and were NOT open to parent involvement. Another question to ask is how much the student has to self advocate. At UCONN, they let the professors know "he's one of ours", but they will not discuss the issue unless they have to. They expect the kid to advocate, but they will prep them. At RIT, from what they said, it's all on the kid).

    Good luck. Happy to talk by email or by phone with anyone, but likely you will just hear my gush about UCONN!
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for the great info. My son is a junior and we are looking at colleges with great disability support. Did you disclose ASD in the application?
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  • uniquefirsttryuniquefirsttry 65 replies5 threads Junior Member
    My son did NOT disclose and almost every source I’ve read says not to. I can see an exception if your child has been aware of his diagnosis for a while and is comfortable with it and benefits by it as a part of their identity, but for my child, it just wasn’t the right way to go in terms of what he wanted to lead with. I would lead with the academic qualifications and have the personal essay focus on something that truly drives your child and see where he gets in.Then, once he’s in, you can go to the support programs and it’s very likely to be no big deal as far as they’re concerned. They’ve pretty much seen it all. And your child’s diagnosis doesn’t need to be shared with anyone beyond the disability office. Yes, he may receive accomodations for tests and such but from I’ve been told, the professors never need to be told what the reason/diagnosis is for the accommodations. Good luck with your search and wish us luck next year!
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  • gatspygirlgatspygirl 39 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @overbearingmom Thanks for sharing! i am am so happy to hear about your son's success story. UCONN sounds amazing!!! After reading so many dismal posts the past few years, its nice to hear that things are changing and with more and more good programs in place many can thrive in a college setting. My son did not wish to venture too far from home (we are in Chicago) so we did not officially explore UCONN. It was on my list for a long time. He settled on the University of Illinois which is only about a 2 and a half hour drive.. They do have a program for ASD kids but it is non paid and rolls up under their disability services so we'll see how it goes. They do have private housing so he will be living in a dorm about 10 steps from the Quad which is where most classes are held (they will wash his sheets and clean his room every two weeks and do his laundry if it comes to that). AND after stalking his UIUC facebook page, I hired a fellow freshman student that works with special needs kids as his "executive functioning coach". Not sure exactly what that will entail as we are still working out the details (if anyone has any suggestions, please chime in). With all of that I in place, am hopeful and at this point it's the best I can do:)

    @2015vintagemars My son did disclose his diagnosis in his essays. The essays were not about his Asperger's but he touched on the subject briefly by mentioning it in passing. We wanted to be as transparent as possible with the admissions office so they could truly assess if the school would be a good fit for him.
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2019
    @gatspygirl @overbearingmom - Thank you so much for sharing your experience. My son wants to do engineering but not sure he's ready to venture too far away from home. We are in SoCal and are trying decide the "radius" of colleges he would apply. How did you decide the comfort range?
    edited May 2019
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  • overbearingmomoverbearingmom 152 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I would have him apply to some close-ish to home and some farther away (UCONN is the best of course lol). Only you know your son, but my son in the summer before his Senior year didn't think he would be able to go to even a 4 year close to home, only going to community college. Remind him that he can do it, and if he doesn't, he will be just like the neurotypical kids who had a tough time and came home to try again. Plus, there is a class of people called transfer students who change schools for any number of reasons.

    I forgot to mention that my son went to a pre-college program in his junior to senior summer in Denver (College Living experience, which does have a few locations for school year support, Costa Mesa being one). I believe it was 2-3 weeks dorming in a community college and learning basic self-care skills (laundry, using public transportation, getting themselves up, showered) and so he was a little more confident, but still.... If you can't leverage a program like that (there is also CIP near me, probably other vendors across the country), it might be helpful if you have grandparents or an aunt and uncle or someone he might listen to without thinking it's nagging and have him stay with them and do all that stuff for himself. Maybe even just a pre-college summer program at a 4 year institution near you that doesn't specifically cater to kids on the spectrum.

    As we said to him, you can just decide in August that you aren't ready and go to the local community college. You can't just decide in September you want to go to a 4 year school, so apply and will reassess in the spring when the decisions come in. Best idea I ever had. There is a lot of natural growth in Senior year, and even before the decisions came in, he had decided he was going away. He applied to the UCs (Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and UCSD and got into all, but none had the supports he needed, and he liked them but really liked UCONN). UC Santa Barbara has an autism center that used to cater to kids up to I think Elementary School, but they are branching out to supporting the college age. Depending on his level of impairment, it might be helpful. We met with them and they didn't give a welcoming vibe to my son's quirkiness.

    All in all, I think going away so far was the best thing we could have done for him. I took him to look at schools, but he flew by himself to orientation and back. And my husband took him to school (spent some time in Boston before they went), but he came back for Christmas/went back on his own and I thought about going to help him pack up, but he's doing that on his own and then traveling to Boston for a few days and coming back from there. So clearly, he feels he can do it. And he'll be cutting back to once a week with support, if the Director okays it.

    Does that mean it's all sunshine and rainbows? No. He told me yesterday that the campus police came to talk to him because he was acting weird/probably creepy at the Student Union. He still hasn't mastered social interaction, so personal space/entering a conversation not always his strong suit. But, when they talked to him, it sounds like he (and probably his RA and friends) were able to explain the nature of his impairment without issue. So, I choose to see the glass as half full.
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