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My 16 yr-old stepdaughter, who we'll call Ann, has been through multiple hospitalizations, 35 or so ECT treatments, and lots of meds for her depression.  Currently she's able to attend high school most days, thanks to geodon, provigil, wellbutrin, lexapro and neurontin.  We're currently trying out clozapin, as well.

We're starting to wonder about what happens after high school.  Unless there's a fairly dramatic improvement, it's hard to imagine Ann being able to independently attend college.  She's certainly smart enough, but the meds she takes leaves her unable to focus effectively, drains her motivation, and leaves her somewhat irritable and immature.

Any ideas for a supportive, college-like environment for someone like Ann? I know there are lots of colleges with help for learning disabilities, but Ann probably needs more support than they can offer. Has anyone had a good experience with some alternative educational program?

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Heya walkingman57,

I know that a girl I was roommates with got her undergrad degree part-time through an online university, Athabaska.  It had the same clout as any other degree.

That was a few years back, and I'm sure there are options like that for lots of programs/interests.

There are also programs with some online, correspondence, and in-class components, so the students can still get the social aspects while living at home in a supportive environment.

There are people around the boards with different experiences, but that's what I've seen.

She has you on her side, which is half the battle.

--ncc--

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I live in Australia, so things might be a little different.

A customer at work's daughter, Natasha is severely depressed, but goes to uni. She's about the same age as me, 19.  Because she takes so many trips to the hospital, she studies part time, so taking twice as long to finish her couse. Less stress, though.  So, maybe Ann could do something like that if there is no other option. Or, possibly take a year off before college for treatment.

Personally, I think uni is easier than high school, but the problem is, you have to be more independant. Unlike high school, no one cares if you miss a few days, or miss the whole year. And then you fail. With me, as annoying as it is, mum forces me to go when I don't want to get up. So mum's the mean highschool teacher for me ;)   But then again, I'm not severely depressed. And, I like being there.

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Does she have an idea for a career? Is she interested in a traditional BA or in something more 'vocational' (I hate that word for this) like paralegal or administrative assistant or some such?

There are increasing numbers of online classes available, many of which are as good as the regular courses and taught by the regular faculty of the college. However -- and this is a BIG one -- online classes can require a LOT of discipline. There's no one in the classroom demanding your assignments on time. It's very easy to get behind, and in my experience people who get behind often never catch up. As a teacher, I send demanding email to people who don't turn in their assignments, but it is very easy to delete and ignore (and probably frequently done).

As already mentioned, when she's contemplating a school, you should contact their disability office and see what kinds of assistance they can offer to help her. And while it'll take longer to finish, she can also go part-time and take classes through the summer as well.

You might get some useful information by asking this in the student forum farther down the list.

Fiona

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If you've got some decent schools in your town, she could continue to live at home and either commute full time or, more likely to be better, go in part time.  My mom got all the way up to her masters going part time when she didn't have anything specifically wrong with her; it's just better for some people.

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