Going Into College Life

by Mary O'Malley

My son has had various dx's but has maintained long standing sensory processing disorders - they seem to fade and then during times of stress reappear. He is now very sensitive to music especially screamo and the always hard to handle r&b. He also has problems with anxiety and this has really affected his socialization. He will be 18 in May.

He goes to a private Catholic all boys school, has a laptop and has basically survived by the skin of his teeth in math and science classes. He is capable of A work if he likes the teacher and/or subject. Math is very difficult because of visual motor deficits.

He has been accepted provisionally to a very small Catholic college with a very strong Student with Disability program. He will dorm - he is across town and can come home at any time. I am concerned about socialization- he is a gamer to the extreme, also especially in regards to sound he has suggested ear plugs, food concerns, and ADL skills are still not totally independent he needs reminders. OT has been somewhat helpful

Anyone have experience with these developmental issues?

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Feb 12, 2009
The first year in the dorm was rough
by: Pamela

While my son's SPD sounds much milder than yours, and he could certainly handle ADL's independently, the social issues in the dorm were insurmountable. For one, he simply could not study. Too much commotion, even in the study rooms of the library (distracted by people walking by, whether facing the window, or not). He often came home (to my house, in the daytime, when it was quiet because I was at work) to study. But after the first semester, he came home to stay. He was devastated at not being able to handle the social environment; just couldn't cope with the extremes. And, of course, it affected him academically.

I'm pleased to tell you that the decision to have him stay at home (commuter student) was a good choice. Now, in senior year, he was eager to move into a house with peers. He is not happy there, which is sad to see since he was SOOOOOOOO excited about making the arrangements, finding the right roommates, etc. but he is coping as well as most young people would. He is now an independent man.

...Something that helped a lot was a special kind of liquid zeolite. 4 months after coming home (being on zeolite for 2 1/2 months) he took a job in a state very far away, working on a steam locomotive. The apt. was used by all of the workers, who came in at all hours of the day or night; he didn't know any of them. Can you imagine surviving such a place? While he only stayed for 5 weeks, he really wasn't all that bothered by the environmental disruptions! Surely the heavy work of firing a locomotive helped a great deal, but without the zeolite (which removes heavy metals from the body), he wouldn't have been able to survive that apartment.

His social skills with unpredictable peers are OK now, but become a challenge whenever he hasn't had the zeolite for several weeks.

I just wanted you to know that there is hope! Experiences and maturity help a lot. But do keep your eyes and heart open to your son, to know if/when to intervene. I stayed out of much of my son's college experiences as I knew he needed to be weaned from dependence on me, but I had to go to bat for him re: the dorm and testing (he couldn't take a multiple choice test to save his life). ....A little fyi: I'm an OT who specializes in SPD, amongst other things. But having a son with the disorder is a different experience. Luckily I'd known what to do from the beginning, so his environment was modified out the kazoo from the very beginning. But it's still a major challenge. My best to you and your child.

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