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LaunchPad Consulting Group serves the Learning Disability (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community searching for the right transition in placement for K-12, Post-Secondary options and in the Workplace.

We have over 20 years of experience in the field of learning disabilities and passionate about launching young adults on a path towards success.


K-12 School Placement
K-12 School Placement

Navigating parents to the right specialized school setting for their child.

Post-Secondary Options
Post-Secondary Options

Finding the right path after high school is an important decision and one that takes planning.

Workplace Counseling
Workplace Counseling

Providing individuals with disabilities guidance during the job search and certification.

How to Make “New” Easier for Young Adults

Remember that this time is not permanent.  And although we aren’t sure how long this new way of life will last, we will get through this together, one step at a time.

One of my favorite podcasts right now is Brené Brown’s, Unlocking Us.  I often listen to an episode while walking my dogs, a favorite pastime for my two energetic Australian Labradoodles, Tucker and Lacey. 

While listening to the first episode, Brené’ introduced a topic called FFT, and I couldn’t help but get excited about how this relates to most of my clients.   Brené can say out loud what FFT stands for in her podcast but censored it means, “F*@#$ First Time.” Or for the G-rating, you can call it  TFT or “Terrible First Time.” She bases the premise on new being hard and how anything new can cause discomfort. So how do we work through the discomfort to get to the other side?   Brené and her team have done extensive vulnerability research and found that when many of us are afraid of vulnerability, we stop trying. We want to be good at what we do the first time, and if we aren’t, well, then why do it?  But as Brené points out, “if we give up being new or awkward, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, we stop living.” We don’t stop living in the literal sense, but we can put on hold, reaching our future goals, and get stuck.   It was an ah-ha moment for me when I realized that many of my clients are dealing with- FFT’s when moving to the next step in their life path!

“If we give up being new or awkward, we stop growing. And when we stop growing, we stop living.”  Brené Brown

If you are a young adult in college, in the workplace, or looking for a job, FFT’s are happening all the time. You may be uncertain about your future, possibly because of a fear of failure, something you may have had a lot of experience in your short life. Academics, friendships, relationships, or holding a job all may have brought their share of failures. And the pandemic can only increase your worries. For many of us, the FFTs can be multiplied, and most probably are happening at once! It doesn’t help that your support systems such as parents, teachers, friends, and family are all dealing with FFT’s of their own with the pandemic. It’s my first pandemic, and I am pretty confident it is yours too.

For many of us, the FFTs can be multiplied, and most probably are happening at once!

Brené suggests that the first step in dealing with an FFT is to name it.  “By naming it, we own it.” And once we own it, we can go to the next step of normalizing it. We can then put it in perspective to change the expectations.  A real-life example right now for a college student is the abrupt shift from living on campus and in-person classes to living at home and taking online courses.  Separately either one of those situations is anxiety-ridden, but together it’s a double whammy!  What was already hard like time management got harder.   Then add to that a different way of communicating with professors and other classmates, alienating friends, and being in the same environment ALL DAY LONG! So no wonder Johnny is a little more irritable than usual. Johnny might say, “I am feeling stressed right now having to be at home and figuring out this whole digital classroom thing.” Now he has named it and can start to own it to work through how to get to the next step.

 “By naming it, we own it.” And once we own it, we can go to the next step of normalizing it. 

Transitions, shifting to another activity, were already hard as well.  Now it is more difficult with distractions of filling in down time-video games and texts from friends-then shifting attention to getting on the next Zoom call with a professor and checking online for homework assignments. Transitions are challenging, so we name it, “I am having a hard time shifting my focus.”  What is your next step? Try putting systems in place to help get you through it.  One idea is to keep the same schedule you had when you were on campus.  Setting up calendar reminders or timers to transition from one activity to another can also be helpful.  

Transitions are challenging, so we name it, “I am having a hard time shifting my focus.”

It is even more critical than before to learn to self-advocate.  Some students use accommodations to have their tests read by an authorized person or need extra time.  Test-taking accommodations are one area that may drop off when going to online classes if you aren’t self-advocating for them.  Going online may mean a new system should be put in place to receive these accommodations, but you may have to ask for it.  Becoming a stronger self-advocate to ask for what you need has to be a regular practice.  Once we get into these habits, guess what? We can make it our new normal and get better with practice. 

 Becoming a stronger self-advocate to ask for what you need has to be a regular practice.  

I don’t want to assume this is a natural process.  If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated, do a reality check. We are in a time of a new normal, and it might be your FFT. Name what you are feeling and try to work through it. Talk to a close friend, your parents, or someone else close to you. Once you name it and own it, you will have the power to change your perspective.  Make it your new normal. Work through it and reset your expectations.  

 Name what you are feeling and try to work through it.

Whether you are the young adult or the parent of the young adult, I highly recommend that you tune into Brené Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us, and listen to Episode 1.  You may have to listen to it multiple times. Or you can contact me, and I can walk you through your FFT, and together, we can move from an FFT to the next step, which could be what I call your ANT, “Amazing Next Time.” 

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay patient. Remember, we can get through this together.

College and Lifetime Skills in Uncertain Times

www.mishmashbyash.net

What will Fall semester 2020 look like on college campuses?

Unfortunately, due to COVID19, college campuses will be different this coming fall.  Social distancing on campus, changes in dorm life, hybrid classes-a mixture of online and in-person, as well as smaller class sizes in unconventional spaces, are just a few ways it will change.  For students with learning disabilities and attention issues, this will mean a need to have a greater understanding of accommodations and accessibility to their classes.  Self-advocacy, resiliency, and motivation will be the key to success in this new environment more than ever.

First-year students will undoubtedly feel the impact of COVID19 the most.  Not only was their high school senior year abruptly taken from them, but the college experience that they may have dreamed of will no longer look the same in 2020-2021. However, we all learned a lot since this pandemic started in March, including how to be creative in communications using online options. Some have found that the experience was better for them while others not so much.  For those who felt it was more positive, they cited reasons such as more one-on-one interaction with faculty and classmates, more flexibility in attending classes, being able to review the lecture, which helped with note-taking and review. At the same time, others struggled with time management and keeping up with courses in the online environment.  For students with LD/ADHD, another semester of uncertainty will take structure, reminders, motivation, focus, and resilience to cut through the challenges that they will face.  

Students will see many changes on campus as well. Wearing masks has been and will be a way of life for everyone, at least for the foreseeable future.  Many colleges will require students to wear masks in class and around campus, removing them when they get to their living spaces.  Students living on campus may have “family spaces,” or suites, to allow some interaction between students since they may be confined to their rooms more than in the past. Cafeteria time may also be limited with takeout meals and spaced out tables. University of the Ozarks President, Rich Dunsworth, said in a recent university address that due to increased student spacing at Ozarks will mean classes will take place in unconventional spaces like theater stages or conference centers. And separate areas will be set aside for quarantining students when necessary keeping them on campus or close by to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Many colleges are limiting breaks in the fall semester, asking that students leave campus before Thanksgiving and not return until classes resume at the end of January.  Faculty are planning now to go all online after Thanksgiving and will round out the semester with finals online as well. 

But no matter what the Fall semester looks like, getting a college education is essential not only for students but for the economy in general.  In the webinar, “Preparing for Campus Life During a Pandemic” hosted by NCAG Online,  Jim Welch discussed how our economy depends on skills learned in the post-secondary environment. Highly educated individuals are needed to bring new ideas and train our next generation of thought leaders.  

We need to be very proud of this generation of students who learned a lot in the past few months since this pandemic began.  They have already acquired skills of resilience, how to deal with disappointment, how to pivot to new learning environments, how to stay connected with friends in new ways, among other skills.  Brene Brown, in her Podcast, Unlocking Us, Episode 1,  states, “Learning how to stay standing in the midst of staying unsure and uncertain that is the foundation of courage.” And as these courageous students move forward into their chosen career paths, the skills learned during this time will serve them well.  So let’s give these students a round of applause and an elbow or fist bump to reassure them that they are not alone. We are here for them as advisors and mentors to help them on their path, although a little different right now, as successful as possible, to become the next generation of creative thought leaders our country will need.

Toss Your Caps in the Air!

It’s graduation time again! Many proud parents will be watching their high school senior walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma. It is predicted that 1 in 5 of those students has learning disabilities* and 1 in 6 with ADHD*.

NEWSFLASH! Learning disabilities and ADHD do not disappear after graduation from high school.

A recent report from the 2017 NCLD, The State of LD shows that:

  • 41% of students with learning disabilities will complete college compared to 52% of their peers without learning disabilities.
  • 24% informed their college they have a learning disability.
  • 7% did not inform their college even though they still considered themselves to have a learning disability.
  • 69% did not inform their college because they no longer considered themselves to have a learning disability.

For the student who is college bound, would the success rate increase if more students informed their college they needed help and used the accommodations they are eligible for?

I believe it would and I have seen it happen first hand.   Students will struggle to the point of failing if they deny themselves the opportunity to succeed by not self-advocating for themselves and using services such as tutoring, note takers, digital textbooks or the option of working with a learning specialist.

Also, many factors that are not academic get in the way of success. Organizational skills and independent living skills are tested beyond the maturity of the student and can hijack the experience for both the student and parent. However, once they consistently start using the services available to them, grades and self-confidence increase as well.

It is imperative that we deliberatively teach our students these skills prior to leaving for college. But if the student is showing that they are not ready there are options.

  • Enrolling students in a gap year program focused on helping the student learn more about themselves and independent living skills can be beneficial.
  • Enrolling in a summer program focusing on the transition process before going to college can also be beneficial.
  • Attending a local community college and working a part-time job may also provide the year of maturity that they may need.

Remember that after graduation the support of the school, IEP and teachers are gone. No second chances on tests, no projects turned in late for a grade. If a student stays home after graduation to attend community college, parents have to play a larger role in guiding their student when these supports are no longer offered. A typical Disability Support Services Office at college doesn’t normally offer personalized service. They will help to put the accommodations in place but then the student is left on their own to navigate the system. In that case, I suggest hiring a learning specialist to guide the student in acquiring the self-advocacy and organization skills needed to succeed on their own.  Some colleges offer Comprehensive Learning Support which also can provide the personalized support.

High school graduation is a major accomplishment and I congratulate all the graduating seniors and their parents. It is an exciting time. Launch Pad Consulting Group can assist with all aspects of helping your student embark on the next journey of their life after high school. Contact us and we will walk through it together.

Sources: The State of LD, National Center for Learning Disabilities (2017)

Source: National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, The Post-High School Outcomes of Young Adults With Disabilities Up to 8 Years After Leaving High School (2011)