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SpecialistMichael
SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 506
Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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How can our 25 year old autistic daughter obtain her goals?

Customer Question

How can our 25 year old daughter with autism obtain her career goal as a professional musician? (She is a talented musician, bright, graduated summa cum laude with BM in music and minor in math; she misses opportunities because she does not read social nuances well, and is easily taken advantage of. When younger, she looked very autistic (flapping hands, non-responsive, spinning, rocking. these behaviors are now pretty faded). She's earned sub positions with 3 professional orchestras. She has both phono and photographic type memory. She thinks in pictures; she did not realize words were said on TV until we got closed caption TV. Her first question at age 5 was, "What is a question?" At age 7 she said 'write words down so I know what you say". She works hard, is high demand as a collaborative artist on campus. We are not wealthy, and do not know what to do in the face of her mounting educational debts. She is capable of holding down a significant position with an excellent orchestra. She also hopes to work as a conductor, gets needed credentials that support what she can naturally do. Sometimes she thinks she can drive, but then says not really because driving requires quick reflexes, and good vision that she also does not have. . I honestly do not know what to say - we pledged to give her support emotionally, and she has a little left in the college fund, a few though sand dollars, but to complete her degree she news another $20,000 unless her school decides that she deserves support, and that they decide she is one who will have some...  XXXXX
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 2 years ago.

FitnessSpecialist :

Hi Terry, I will be able to provide some of the common pathways a college graduate and graduate student can take to hopefully smooth the road more for her.

FitnessSpecialist :

Depending on the type of loans your daughter has, it would probably be a good idea to consolidate them so you/she is not forced to pay them. Many consolidations base required payments off of income so if she isn't working or is still completing her graduate degree she will not be weighed down by the payments. Nelnet(.com) is a popular consolidation site that puts all of your information together once you source the information on each individual loan. You can do this for her if its easier.

The next information I would obtain is what kind of financial aid she is eligible for by completely her FAFSA found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ . This website provides information of any student loans available through her school that should allow her to retrieve enough money to complete her degree, then when coupled with her consolidations upon graduating should make paying them back relatively easy to understand and cope with.


FitnessSpecialist :

The next choice would be to research scholarship opportunities and any available grants for her based on the major she is in but also her GPA and academic standings. General students are rewarded with grant and scholarship opportunities if they excel and perform well during undergraduate studies. This would be as simple as contacting her department at school and seeing what scholarships are available, finding out their requirements and having your daughter apply. Grants are typically the same way, you see what would be a correct and appropriate "fit", then apply.

FitnessSpecialist :

As far as helping her with guidance while around campus and in her community, there should at the very least be an on campus community(sometimes through the school itself) to basically befriend your daughter but giving her the appropriate guidance and help to ensure each day is structured as needed(or whatever would benefit her). I went to a larger SUNY school and could recall a myriad of programs designed to assist students whether it be with academics, language barriers, scheduling conflicts, or even things as simple as daily organization or housing assistance. There should at the very least be a contact at her school that should be able to put you in contact with a group or department that specializes in helping students with autism. Most schools want all of their students to succeed, the hardest part usually is just finding those departments on campus.

FitnessSpecialist :

Does this provide the assistance you were looking for? Most schools are set up to help all student succeed, unfortunately some schools make it a little difficult to realize all the "busy work" involved to make it so.

FitnessSpecialist :

Hi Terry i see you have joined the chat. Let me know your thoughts once you have read through my responses

Customer :

Adults with Autism in the State where she attends school do not typically receive support unless a resident of that State, then must be severe. At best she would have to find a private individual to pay them, which adds another budget line item. Not to mention retesting has to be done every three years which is expensive, and a great deal of wear and tear on the individual tested as testing tools that show the individual what a 'failure; they are - call attention to 'disability' in the person being tested as a severe demoralizing experience. Our daughter at age 4 was given a test where she had to form block reproductions of patterns the tester set up for her to copy. She wanted to look at the stop watch being used, tester would not let her, so instead of making the exact same pattern daughter reversed the two colors in each pattern present, there fore scoring '0' on the test. After two hours of testing my daughter said 'home now' - for her at that time to put together more than two words was a major accomplishment! A third grade teacher once saw my daughter put together a puzzle that non of her very gifted children could put together in less than 1 minute (one of those 'tricky' ones for supper intelligent) and said can you do that again. and She did. Later I asked her how she did it so quickly and she said I know how to feel the pieces and make a smooth match - easy - I did not share she also has a progressive eye disease that at that age was out of control so much of her young life she had poor vision. Now it is not normal, but she is not considered blind - accept is when ever her floaters get stuck in the middle of her eyes when a floater storm is triggered by bright lights in rooms, or the sun or a computer screen. The SUNY system is pretty good, however one intrinsic difficulty discovered/ experienced by our daughter has been a high level of disability discrimination her entire educational experience. She has heard reachers say 'kids like her graduate with attendance diplomas, you can't take an AP course, kids like you don't do that, she was one of the first students with her disability 'mainstreamed' in elementary school, the negative experiences she and others with disabilities that she witnessed over the years is deplorable.

FitnessSpecialist :

I think the major separating factors from what she may have heard someone say and the fact about her is she really is a high performing individual despite being a student with autism. Graduating summa cum laude is no easy task.

What county is her school in? and what other avenues have you tried in getting her appropriate assistance otherwise?


Customer :

We know about consolidation, of course the school wants her to succeed, but they have told her they are embarrassed they cannot offer her the support she needs and deserves (that was last year, she received some support in the form of a TA and has done a great deal of work for the support she receives, which of course helps increase her life skills, as well as musician skills (she is in high demand as a collaborative musician, and also gives to the community as much as she can using her talents), and that she must depend on finding more loans, she qualifies for max on the FAFSA, but that does not cover the cost of the school. We have a small amount left in her college fund and she is evengingly distributing that over her four semesters. while her ethic background is mixed she is more white than anything so no EOP scholarships, because she is not labeled blind does not qualify to apply to scholarships in this area. She is working, but the pay is not enough..

FitnessSpecialist :

She sounds like a tremendous individual.

Have you looked into private loan procurement(through possible local banks and credit unions) to supplement her work and any other aid she has maxed out?

Does she not qualify for loans related to academic performance or performance arts, perhaps from her undergraduate degree?

FitnessSpecialist :

Similar to large non-profit organizations I believe there are programs for college students that need financial support that would otherwise benefit from additional suppport, when in a situation like your daughters have exhausted much of the immediate support

FitnessSpecialist :

Has she exhausted all her grants and scholarships for performing arts? Even those which are not dependent on DLA for qualification?

Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 2 years ago.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
basically I'm not sure how this answer thing works, if I say accept answer, does that mean we are done period for my question. You are trying to do a great job, but yet I have no new ideas. We have helped so many others from our experiences. I wish we knew others to guide us. I am searching on line like crazy for anything - but then she has to write the applications, which she is an excellent writer, however her processing from the brain to the pen, or key board is like it it from her brain to the mouth to speak. It is so painful for her. She describes all the words are in her brain, but the switch does not work to let them out when they are needed. It takes her so long to tell us things. Again non-verbal means of communication is what works for her. Her dream would be that she can see clear enough to see the actual words that people speak. With her very low auditory processing speed, it is very difficult for her. At least in K-12 she had a note taker, and when a professor uses power point and she can see her time in classes is very useful.

As you can see her situation is very complicated, and you are correct, she is a most amazing person, and that is why I try to keep it together, because she so much wants to succeed. She should have been born 20 years before she was, and she might have very well been successful. Then you did not ned the 'academics' to become a professional musician in the classical world. We should have home schooled her. My biggest mistake! CIM would have welcomed her as a child prodigy, but instead we tried to let her find the greater depth of her talents outside of music, and see if she could stretch herself enough to learn to speak. Now she is pay a huge price I am afraid...I'm appreciative of your efforts to help and given more time maybe you might hit on the right things, seems as if you are totally trying to and that counts for something too!
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 2 years ago.
By hitting accept button that is confirming I have helped to answer your question on any of the answers and thus credits me with payment instead of JustAnswer holding your deposit. I do believe I can continue to help after accepting 1 or more answers as the question is locked only after time expires.

Eitherway, considering you are 25 years experienced with helping your daughter, I think the answer is about as simple as it is with any other student and unfortunately about as complex as you have seen thus far. I think it isn't a cut and dry answer, unique to each and every student at an any academic level, at all universities. There is just so much variation from student to student and determining who is eligible is probably based on a myriad of factors from each.

Considering support for Autism is highly variable in each and every area, and considering each school has a variable level in providing assistance to students in general I think much of this will come down to taking the time to fill out the applications and do the questions. Obviously a tough part will be the actual formulation of essays or answers to questions, so perhaps time during a scholastic break would be an opportune time to seek out an aid in the area that that will help bridge that brain-to-paper connection or helping your daughter do this. I would imagine that part of eligibility is determining a level of function from each student and this is where the time requirement will probably come into play.

I think for all the financial aid she will need to make up the difference, I would imagine there will be a lot of effort required to get everything filled out.

What information or assistance have you found from regional centers or local centers in regards XXXXX XXXXX with autism and financial aid? The part of the country I am in has a large center(that is one of the first hits on google) that is incredibly rich with information.
SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 506
Experience: Senior Information Specialist
SpecialistMichael and 130 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Have not found any center for autism willing to help a college student or scholarships for persons with autism, but rather for those working on the behalf of persons with autism. Our daughter is only one of two that we know with Autism in our area who has gone on to college after high school. The other is a fellow, who had a rather difficult time. He too was in music performance, but found a spot in evaluation of sound fields to be his nitch, and flies all over the country evaluation sound fields. He went to both undergraduate and graduate school when financial aid was for real, as were significant scholarships for talent so no loans! Our daughter already has about $15,000 in loans, and will easily add another 15,000 - 20 to cover the 30,000+ cost that is if the school renews her $6000 and she contribute about $6000 next year. What is of additional concern is that we are hearing that if you have significant loans this goes against you for job attainment after school, that employers want to stay away from individuals with heavy loans in lower income careers, which music is is completed in her field of work! IF you can think of anything else it is greatly appreciated - yes I am looking if we have anything we can sell to help her out. Maybe she can hold fundraising concerts - every bit helps....we will see if that is a legal activity or not to do.
Expert:  SpecialistMichael replied 2 years ago.
Your daughter is an inspiration. Truly, very impressive.

When you say "What is of additional concern is that we are hearing that if you have significant loans this goes against you for job attainment after school, that employers want to stay away from individuals with heavy loans in lower income careers, which music is is completed in her field of work!" .. Do you mean within the music industry field she is pursuing?

I have put in a request with a person I know through work who's autistic son is currently in vocational school. I have asked him to get back to me ASAP with additional information as I would imagine they will pursue higher education for their son once he finishes high school. I will immediately forward it to you if you think it can help. I will also continue to find a definite list of eligible grants or aid for her. When I find it I can send it over to you.

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