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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Get Smart about Higher Education and Disability Services

Taylor Price receiving his master degree from Georgetown University President Dr. John J. DeGioia, May 2012.
Taylor Price receiving his master degree from Georgetown University President Dr. John J. DeGioia, May 2012.

Preparing your Family for the College Selection Process

By Nate Herpich

High school seniors have a lot on their plate. In addition to class work and extracurricular activities, they also must prepare college admission applications ahead of fall and winter deadlines. It can be a stressful time to be sure, so we lend some perspective for those families who may be completing the process in the coming weeks, or who anticipate conducting a college search in the near future.

Fulfilling a Dream
Ridgewood, New Jersey native Taylor Price's dream was always to attend Georgetown University. But in the summer of 2004, six weeks before he was set to report for classes, he sustained a severe injury to his C5 vertebra during a diving accident on Long Island.

Taylor was intent on pursuing his dream, despite the injury that left him living with paralysis, and so he deferred for a year with the intent of still attending Georgetown. In the interim, he began intensive physical therapy to prepare his body for the rigors of college.

Also during that year, Taylor made a trip to Georgetown. As he cruised around campus in his power chair, he asked himself honestly, "Is it feasible to go to school here? Will all my personal needs be addressed?" After doing extensive research, and conversations with the Office of Disability Services, he decided that they would be, and so he enrolled. Now, Taylor has both a bachelor's and a master's degree to his name from the school.

"Georgetown became my home," Taylor tells the Reeve Foundation, "a formative place that help shaped who I am. A place where I built many friendships. It was the next step in the continuation of my life journey, a door opener that has allowed me to pursue other things I might not otherwise have done."

Looking back, Taylor offers a word of advice for others living with disabilities who have decided to venture into the world of higher education:

"Don't hide out at school, you're not so different from everyone else. All of us are dealing with some unique issues in our own lives. Be an active, engaged member of the university community. You're an asset, and offer a diverse perspective that can be incredibly valuable to your classmates!"

Choosing a College to Best Fit Your Needs
Taylor's process for determining if his school met all of his unique needs was unique in itself -- he had already gone through the process of finding a school before he was injured. Still, a major takeaway from his experience can be applied to all disabled students looking at schools: Visit the campus beforehand whenever possible, to determine if all of your needs and concerns can be addressed.

Leslie Jablonski of Minneapolis, Minnesota concurs. Her son Jack, a high school senior, is currently in the process of choosing a school to attend next year. They've begun filling out applications now, as many are due in the coming month or so, but she says the process really began in earnest over a year ago. The Jablonskis have visited several campuses, where they investigated campus layouts, and spoke with campus disability services.

"Be sure to ask what experience a school has in working with your specific needs," explains Leslie. "For example, have they ever had a student in a power chair, and what kind of care/ services were they able to provide for that student? You can really get a feel for a school in person, so I think it's really important to do so if you can."

Tyler Hoog reporting to his dormitory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his freshman year in August 2013.
Tyler Hoog reporting to his dormitory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his freshman year in August 2013.

Putting Together a Checklist
Michael Hoog, from Longmont, Colorado, has already been through the college selection process with his son Tyler, who is living with spinal cord injury, and is now a freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Michael and his family have put together an extensive checklist thanks to their own experience in order to help guide others through the process. Here, Michael offers some key points:

First, investigate college considerations that all students will have, such as:

- Degree programs offered
- Admission requirements
- Size of school
- Geographic location
- Cost in-state v. out-of-state

Think about disability-specific considerations, and address the specific needs of your student. For example:

- How is accessibility across campus; in dorms, classrooms, common areas and lecture halls?
- Are live-in caregivers allowed on campus and what might they cost?
- Is the weather conducive to your student's needs?

What offerings are available through the Office of Disability Services on campus?

- Are note takers and testing accommodations allowed?
- What are the rules regarding relocating courses if they're scheduled in inaccessible locations?
- How does the office coordinate with campus entities such as dining, athletics, parking, and housing?

What are healthcare services like in the state where your student will be going to school?

- Learn about the extensiveness of the state's Medicaid program, vocational rehab programs, and the proximity of required physicians and other caregivers.

Lastly, Michael says, as soon as you've made a decision on a school, begin your outreach to state services as soon as possible, if you need/want to take advantage of them. Your child will need to undergo a medical evaluation when he or she arrives, but letting Medicaid know ahead of time can help the state to locate a caregiver for you, or, begin the process of getting your own caregiver certified if they aren't already.

Financial Aid for People with Disabilities
Leslie admits that what keeps her up at night is "starting over" when it comes to Jack's care away from home. "Here in Minnesota, everyone knows Jack, and everything is in place: from his physical therapist to his doctor to his transportation. And this didn't happen overnight! Once we decide on a school, we're planning on going down there to find all of the right resources, and basically start over when it comes to setting up Jack's care."

It's a nerve-racking reality for families of students with disabilities leaving home for the first time, and one that can be compounded by the growing costs of both education, and healthcare.

The silver lining is that there is financial aid out there, and many grants and scholarships are earmarked to help people with disabilities in particular. The Jablonskis are currently hard at work looking into financial aid and grants. They've also found a specific scholarship program through the University of Southern California (one of Jack's top choices) called Swim with Mike, which offers scholarships to disabled athletes.

Above all, be creative in thinking about how your student is unique -- there is money out there for all kinds of individuals getting set to start their collegiate careers. Sometimes, scholarship funders are looking for students with very specific criteria.

FinAid: Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities is a good place to get started in your search. This award-winning site has grown into the most comprehensive source of student financial aid information, advice and tools -- on or off the web.

Reeve Foundation Resources
- Education for People with Disabilities
- Vocational Rehabilitation Resources for Teens Transitioning into Adulthood

View the full list of Reeve Foundation Fact Sheets.

The ArcThe Arc is the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals and includes over 140,000 members affiliated through more than 850 state and local chapters across the nation. The Arc is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Alliance for Parent CentersThe Technical Assistance ALLIANCE for Parent Centers (the ALLIANCE) is an innovative partnership of one national and six regional parent technical assistance centers, each funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). These seven projects comprise a unified technical assistance system for the purpose of developing, assisting, and coordinating the over 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The national and regional parent technical assistance centers work to strengthen the connections to the larger OSEP Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network and fortify partnerships between Parent Centers and education systems at local, state, and national levels.

Ability OnLineA computer friendship network where children and youth with disabilities or chronic illnesses connect to each other as well as to friends, family members, caregivers and supporters.

All Kids Can!A disabilities awareness program that helps students of all ages learn attitudes of acceptance, dignity and respect, especially toward those with disabilities.

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Religion and People with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Children with Disabilities (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Children's and Teen Books (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Parenting with a Disability (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Mindfullness (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on New Injury Top 10 Questions (PDF)

The American Camping AssociationAccredits camping facilities, including dozens across the U.S. that cater to kids with paralysis, to assure a safe and healthy experience. Click above to locate a camp.

Association of University Centers on Disabilities61 centers of excellence for developmental disabilities

Council for Exceptional ChildrenThe Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides professional development, advocates for individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

Camp Ronald McDonaldA fully accessible residential camp for kids with special needs located in the high Sierra.

Children With DisabilitiesOffers information about advocacy, education, employment, health, housing, recreation, technical assistance, and transportation covering a broad array of developmental, physical, and emotional disabilities.

The Council for Exceptional ChildrenDedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted.

Children's Neurobiological SolutionsChildren's Neurobiological Solutions, Inc. (CNS) is a national, non-profit organization supporting collaborative research to advance treatments and therapies for children with neurodevelopmental abnormalities, birth injuries to the nervous system, and related neurological problems. CNS offers families and health care providers information and educational resources.

Education/TrainingAssociation on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

Exceptional ParentThe magazine often runs a column on dentistry for people with disabilities.

DREAMMS for KidsDevelopmental Research for the Effective Advancement of Memory and Motor Skills specializes in assistive technology for students and youth with special needs in schools, homes, and the community.

Easter SealsEaster Seals provides exceptional services, education, outreach, and advocacy so that people living with autism and other disabilities can live, learn, work and play in our communities.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)ERIC - the Education Resources Information Center - is an online digital library of education research and information. ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. ERIC provides ready access to education literature to support the use of educational research and information to improve practice in learning, teaching, educational decision-making, and research.

Family Voices Family Voices Information and Publications, and links to external resources can be located in a number of different ways. All of our materials are categorized by topic (format and audience coming soon) on the publications page. You may also use the "Search FV" Tool in the left column to find materials by keyword. Some materials are available for download, some for viewing online, and others are available by hardcopy only from our catalog. State specific information may be found by contacting a Family Voices State Network Member. Please contact the kidshealth@familyvoices.org if you require any assistance.

The Fathers NetworkSupports men who have children with special needs through support and mentoring programs, technical assistance, national conferences and information resources.

HEATHGeorge Washington University’s Heath Resource Center is a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for people with disabilities. See their 2006 Financial Aid for Individuals with Disabilities

Internet Resources for Special ChildrenProvides information to parents, family members, caregivers, friends, educators, and medical professionals who provide for children with disabilities and other health related disorders.

Getting Benefits for KidsThis link illustrates the kinds of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits a child with a disability might be eligible for and explains how we evaluate disability claims for children.

Indian Health ServiceU.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.

Island Dolphin CareAllows children to swim and play with dolphins.

Family Center on technology and DisabilityThe Family Center is a resource designed to support organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities. We offer a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technologies. Whether you're an organization, a parent, an educator, or an interested friend, we hope you'll find information that supports you in your efforts to bring the highest quality education to children with disabilities.

FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.

KidsComSite has plenty of games, message boards, kids chat, video game cheats, contests and prizes.

KidsHealthOffers reliable health information about children from before birth through adolescence, with separate areas for kids, teens, and parents.

Kids MoveDevoted to pediatric movement disorders with up-to-date information about the recognition, assessment, treatment, and support.

National information Clearinghouse for Children and Youth with Disabilities INICHCY) NICHCY is very pleased to offer you a wealth of information on disabilities! NICHCY stands for the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) Our mission: To strengthen service systems to ensure that children with disabilities (birth through 5 years) and their families receive and benefit from high quality, culturally appropriate and family-centered supports and services.

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY)Provides information on disabilities and disability-related issues for families, educators, and other professionals; special focus is children and youth (birth to age 22).

National Resource Center for Parents with DisabilitiesA deep resource on childbirth and parenting, adaptive equipment for childcare, networking and support groups

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative ServicesThe Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is committed to improving results and outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages.

The Office of Special Education ProgramsSupports numerous programs that improve results for children.

Our-KidsAn online family of parents, caregivers and others working with children with physical and/or mental disabilities.

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) Parents Helping Parents (PHP) provides lifetime guidance, supports and services to families of children with any special need and the professionals who serve them.Parents Helping Parents (PHP) provides lifetime guidance, supports and services to families of children with any special need and the professionals who serve them.

Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) The mission of PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families, based on the concept of parents helping parents.

Parenting with Disabilities OnlineProvides information, support and resources to parents with disabilities.

Parents On WheelsSite is dedicated to parents who use wheelchairs.

Parents with Disabilities OnlineProvide information and resources to parents with disabilities.

The Sibling Support Project The Sibling Support Project is a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns.

Shriners Hospitals Children up to the age of 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment at no charge – regardless of financial need.

Starlight Foundation for ChildrenDevelops multi-media and technology projects that empower seriously ill children to deal with the medical and emotional challenges they face on a daily basis.

The Shriners HospitalsThe Shriners have three facilities in the U.S. to provide expert, no-cost care to children under 18 with spinal cord injuries.

State Respite CoalitionsThe Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project was established in 1969 with funding from the Federal government as part of our nation's earliest attempts to provide educational services to young children with disabilities.

Through the Looking GlassThe purpose of the National Parent-to-Parent Network at Through the Looking Glass is to connect parents, as well as those who are considering becoming parents, with others who may have shared similar experiences or faced common barriers as parents with disabilities.

U Can DoA site that emphasizes what you can do, not what you can’t. Promotes ‘ability awareness’ to help kids focus on what is possible, regardless of their challenges.

YahooligansBig list of links for all sorts of kids’ sites, including tons of places to go for games, sports, TV and movie stuff.

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

ASK OUR EXPERTS
  • Email our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Call our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Call our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Newly paralyzed or spinal cord injured? Start here.
Find Resources in Your Area

Check out programs in your area on our one-of-a kind online searchable Quality of Life program database. You can search by location or topic. GO



 
 

The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.