As salty old adults, many of us mis-remember just how many skills we needed to learn in order to be able to leave home. For Gen X and older, there was the expectation that, after high school, we were more or less our own - ready or not! Those few years after high schools were considered low stakes “on the job training.” If we ate only macaroni and cheese or if our laundry piled up, there was no real risk because we were in college or working not too far from home.
We know a lot more about adolescence now, we now know that a young person can be academically ready for college but unprepared for independent daily living. I know that I was! The support available to me at the time was “Get your head out of your ass!” Today, we’re able to offer support in much more supportive and effective ways that vastly increase graduation rates and employment success. This support is critical- whether they are on the spectrum or not. Stakes are high- the cost of college, and just living has risen dramatically. Even small set-backs for young people can have out-sized consequences that they will struggle with for years.
Adolescents with uneven skills profiles may often seem fine but are struggling with things like:
-knowing what elements of the lecture they should include in their notes
-prioritizing assignments by due date and importance
-misunderstanding what instructors are looking for in a paper or assignment
-remembering to eat, take medication or do laundry.
Kids on the Autism Spectrum, kids with ADHD or other learning differences, kids who might simply be late bloomers are at a distinct disadvantage. In addition to acquiring skills more slowly, these young people often fall off of what is referred to as the “services cliff” when they graduate from high school. They age out of supports and services and their progress slows and often skills deteriorate.
This can be tricky for parents, because at the same time that their adolescent needs continued support in maintaining and expanding their daily living skills, parents are also aware that their adolescent urgently needs to build a sense of independence. How do you help them to help themselves?
At Evolve, what we‘ve learned through our practice is that the role of the college coach can be vital at this stage. Without being hampered by the emotional history of the parent-child relationship, college coaches can help the student assess, dissect and plan around their weakness. Our college coaches can gauge where the student is in terms of daily living skills, and then help the student develop the habit of monitoring their routine. The student makes strides in feeling independent while the parent is relieved of having to feel that they must closely monitor their adolescent’s school work. It’s a win for everybody.