How I Became A #Vanderbiltmom

Jennifer Farmer & her daughter Chloe

I can still remember how it felt when my daughter came home and informed us that college was her plan after graduation. She was in the eighth grade. It was a combination of pride, excitement and straight up fear. It's not that her learning differences scared me, but her future most definitely did. Upon diagnosis, college really wasn't mentioned. An institution was though (and I promptly rejected that notion by the way). I had no way of knowing what my daughter's future would hold. I didn't even have my head wrapped around all the organs and behaviors this chromosomal deletion was supposed to affect so how in the world could THIS conversation be happening?

Because society evolved. People around us have opened their hearts and their minds and programs across the country now exist that help families locate and navigate the best solutions for their adolescent student. College is becoming a real possibility for everyone and though it was an idea that we brought to fruition for my daughter I'm happy to say programming is growing by leaps and bounds. Options exist. Doors are open.

Quite frankly there's a big difference in talking about it as an option at IEP meetings and then actually receiving an acceptance letter. And then there's the reality of making a move several states away and trusting that YOUR DAUGHTER has made the best decision.

But, she did. We are now in the third month of her freshman year at Vandy [Next Steps at Vanderbilt University]. So far, she's run across the football field with her freshman class, navigated just how to get to her ecology class (with her typical peers), enrolled in ballet at Vanderbilt's dance program, plotted her career path, and the list goes on (and on and on). There's so much to do in college, it's amazing.

So, if you’re on the fence or you think it isn't possible, think again. THINK.COLLEGE.

This article is contributed by blogger and self-proclaimed supermom, Jennifer Farmer. Because Chloe’s transition to and the years in high school were anywhere from complex to combative, Jennifer enrolled in a JD program and is currently in second year law. She holds a BA in Public Relations from Flagler College.

Jennifer is in the process of incorporating Include Me Advocacy Group into a non-profit organization that will focus on specific projects and serve as a resource match for those seeking to advocate for their differently abled children. She is a strong advocate for inclusion and enabling every student to reach their potential, despite whatever barriers may be present.

She is known for her open and frankness in her blog and has publicly shared her daughter Chloe’s journey through the searchable hashtag #includemeincollege. The series focuses on Chloe’s decision to attain a post-secondary education, the research process involved, their college tour as a family and finally, Chloe’s acceptance into her first choice: Vanderbilt University. In her blog, Jennifer offers their story and tips and advice for those seeking similar programming.