How to Get Help with the Transition from High School to Post-Secondary with Disabilities
Life is full of transitions. Starting at a new school or job, getting married, and moving to a new home are some of the experiences many of us go through that fundamentally change our lives. The step from high school to college or university is a major milestone early in life. It is one that can be especially challenging for those mental and physical disabilities. But there is help. There are numerous resources and ways to prepare for this life change.
The post-secondary world can be terrifyingly exciting. You suddenly feel much more adult. The added pressure of selecting your program and courses comes with the greater freedom of making your own decisions about your own life. There are tools to help with figuring out how you will attend class, what you will do on campus, and how you will balance this with work, socializing, and more. The Transition Resource Guide for Students with Disabilities is an extensive source for assistance. This resource has a comprehensive overview of many universities and colleges across the country, including accessibility services on campus. It also details the support services and financial aid available to students, as well as accessible areas and transit options for the school you plan to attend.
Along with physical limitations, the post-secondary world can be a nightmare for those contending with mental health concerns. The community of students is much larger, the workload can be far greater, and the pressure on each student is magnified with the increased independence. Depression and anxiety can thrive in this environment. It is important to take advantage of counsellors on campus and talking to mental health professionals while still in high school, and to continue to do so after starting your post-secondary journey. For example, Carleton University has Mental Health and Wellbeing website outlining services students can pursue, such as counsellors who are psychotherapists at the master’s level.
Take full advantage of all the options available to you. Living on campus and having less help from parents or guardians can be challenging. The Erinoak Kids Independent Living Program teaches youth with disabilities to plan meals, shop for groceries, and clean their own place. It can be difficult for some students to go out on a regular basis. Queen’s University offers On-Line to Success, which is a four-week course done entirely online to guide students in discovering their ideal learning approaches and adaptive technologies that will help them succeed. The independence thrusted upon new post-secondary students can be overwhelming. Bloorview Kids Rehab and West Park Healthcare Centre in Ontario offer the Independence Program, which has participants have summer sessions and live at university campus. You get to learn how to identify your needs for personal care, handle chores, and socialize in a big city.
Everyone faces challenges when going from high school to college or university. Those with mental or physical disabilities face additional hurdles in this major transition. Fortunately, there is help. Many resources exist across Canada that are readily accessible for many students. Do not suffer in silence. Talk to your parents, teachers, and health professionals about your options. Starting your post-secondary journey can be scary, but it can also be the most exciting journey of your life so far.
Gravesande, Victoria. “Mental Health and the Transition from High School to University.” The Charlatan. https://charlatan.ca/2018/09/mental-health-and-the-transition-from-high-school-to-university/
NEADS. “High School Transition.” https://www.neads.ca/en/norc/movingon/transition/
Transition Resource Guide. https://www.transitionresourceguide.ca/