Webinar Transcript

Ask the Expert Webinar Q&A: Helping Your Young Adult Become Independent

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Robyn Maggio:  We're pleased to have Stephanie Sarkis and Ari Tuckman.

Ari Tuckman:  We'll take a few questions. I think, Robyn Maggio, you're going to be the question wrangler.

Robyn Maggio:  I am going to give you guys a couple of questions. When do you know that your college student needs accommodation?

Stephanie Sarkis:  I think anytime there's a quality of life issue, and that you know that there's a gap between ability and performance. That you know That your student could be getting ... let's say they have 160 IQ. You know they could get straight A's if they were given the same opportunities as everyone else. And having ADHD, that inherently mean that you are not working at the same level as everyone else. Again, accommodations for ADHD, this seemed to be one of the standard ways of treating it.

Robyn Maggio:  You were suggesting that it might be good for the first couple of years to live at home and commute to home. But then you were also talking about living on campus really immerses you in the college experience. If you could clarify those two different pieces of advice.

Stephanie Sarkis:  I wish this was one size fits all. We can tell you exactly what works for your kid. But there are some kids that would prefer to stay home. Some kids that may not be ready for the on-campus experience. There are some students that get a full ride somewhere out-of-state. It really just depends on whatever works for your child.

Ari Tuckman:  I would actually frame that like this. Sometimes it's a situation where your graduating high school senior is not yet ready for the freedom of living in a dorm on-campus, or in an apartment off-campus. Instead, what they need to do is live at home and take some classes locally. That's one scenario. However, if they will be going off to a college somewhere which could be across town or across the country, living in a dorm I think is probably preferable that first year to living in an apartment.

Hopefully those kind of ... in some ways we're talking really about two different scenarios there. But as Steph said, there are other factors. Free ride somewhere, or other things of that sort, or a sports scholarship, or something. It gets a little bit complicated to kind of figure it all out, but I think these are the kind of things to keep in mind of how to think about it.

Robyn Maggio:  Question about the psychological testing. Some doctors are saying that you have to have a redo of the testing, because it was before age 16. Just wanting more time that clarification of whether that psychological testing is needed before college.

Stephanie Sarkis:  Sure. With college to get accommodations, the rules have changed. You just need a letter from your clinician stating that you have an ADHD diagnosis. Again, I also add accommodations I would recommend just in case the college's list doesn't match mine for testing. So, for graduate school examinations ... so GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT. They do require an evaluation done the last five years. Because again, they are privately owned companies, so they can kind of make their own rules with that. An organization that oversees all the [officer's 00:03:02] student disability services has called a head. A-H-E-A-D. And if you go to their website ... I believe it's ahead.org. They have a really nice section on there for students and their parents about what your rights are with college accommodations.

Robyn Maggio:  One final question, which might be a little bit of a hefty one. But getting into the amount of support parents should be providing with their children. What about for the college students and young adults that are on that end of the spectrum where they don't want any help, don't really want any support, don't want anything, but you're seeing them struggle? How do you really balance that relationship?

Ari Tuckman:  I have many of these conversations. I mean, it's hard. It's one thing if it's an 18 year-old. I think as a parent you still have a whole lot more influence. But let's say they're 22. They've gone a couple of years of college sort of, and they're working, and they're kind of going back to school, but they're not really. You really have a lot less control as a parent over what your kid, who's not a kid anymore, does at that point.

I think that it becomes a matter of on the one hand trying to have a sit down conversation, and just in the most calm and supportive kind of way just explain, "These are my concerns. I feel like these are the ways that you're struggling. Blah, blah, blah. That it's making your life harder than it needs to be." And in this case you need to talk about other things that matter to them, not necessarily the things that matter to you. Because it's a lot easier to convince someone of something if you appeal to what matters to them.

And explain to them, "Here are my concerns. This is what it seems to me isn't working. And that if you did a few of these things differently, maybe some things would work out better, and your life would look more the way that you want it to." Having that kind of a conversation. Possibly begin by admitting some mistakes of your own, because that always eases a conversation better to say, "Look, I recognize I was too this, or I was not enough of that. That probably wasn't helpful. And if I could do it all over again, I would totally do some things differently. But nonetheless, here we are, and here are some things I've figured out since then."

But it may also be a matter of kind of using the levers that you do have. If you feel like your college student is really not ready for college, they're not doing well, they haven't convinced you that the next semester is going to magically somehow be different than last semester, you don't have to pay for it. I mean, you do have the power of the purse here.

I would make the case that if your student is not ready to go back and make it into a positive experience in the sense of getting some decent grades ... that even if you have endless amounts of money, and you don't care at all about wasting tuition money. The more bad grades this person gets, the more likely it is that the school they're at is to ask them to take a leave of absence and no other school is going to accept them. If you bombed out at the first school, the second school doesn't want you. Which means that you wind up then having to take time off and work, having to take some community college classes or something. Maybe move back home.

It's kind of like you wind up there anyway. It's probably better to wind up there before you have a bomb out semester than it is to wind up there afterwards. Especially because nobody needs another failure experience. If the goal is for your student to get out of college with a degree that means something, that they can do something with, having these bad semesters doesn't move the ball down the field. Sometimes you need to kind of pause and do something different before you take those steps.

In an ideal world, you start having these conversations when this student is 16 or 17, but life is what it is. Sometimes you're having these conversations when they're 20 or 22. But that's okay. The good news and what you have on your side is as this young adult gets a little bit older, and begins to see some of their friends graduating, and begins to see some of their friends getting jobs and moving on, there's more realization that begins to kick in. There's more brain development that allows them to really understand this.

At that point, they sometimes get a little bit more serious about it and they realize, "Oh yeah. Okay. Now I see what mom and dad have been griping at me about." Time is on your side, but it's not a tomorrow kind of a thing. It's more like a matter of some years kind of a thing. And sometimes the goal is to just keep them on some sort of a track and not doing too much damage to themselves along the way, so to speak, so that it keep their opportunities open. But I think this is a process of a whole bunch of conversations, and you have the influence that you can have ... which as parents lessens every day from the moment that kid is born.

Robyn Maggio:  Thank you so much, Ari and Stephanie, for sharing your expertise.