I am the founder of the College Internship Program (CIP), a program designed to help young people with Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, and learning differences make successful transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. CIP gives young adults the tools to become productive members of society.
The struggle for independence can be extremely difficult for young adults with Learning Differences. The years between eighteen and twenty-six can be challenging for young adults. Instead of transitioning from dependence to independence, many parents see their children withdraw. Feelings of anxiety, depression, and a sense of inadequacy that have always been there intensify.
Parents are unsure about what the future holds for their children. They wonder if their son or daughter will ever be able to start or finish college, get or keep a job, and begin, or maintain a relationship. As loving parents, they see sensitive, intelligent people who are inflexible, and sometimes blame others for their difficulties and disappointments.
High schools and colleges are trying to cope with the growing number of students who have Learning Differences. I’ve learned, not only from my professional work at CIP’s six centers during the past twenty-nine years, but from my own life experiences (I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in my early 50’s), that true self-knowledge is the key to empowering young adults.
By enabling these young men and women to deal productively with the challenges they face, they are able to move forward with their lives. Self-knowledge about their differences is the first step to achieving self-acceptance. It is the foundation for developing the unique and considerable talents and gifts each one possesses and then for learning how to function “in” and contribute “to” society using these attributes.
The College Internship Program is the result of strategies I have developed over the many years that I have spent working with hundreds of young people on the spectrum. Helping them master basic life skills in order to succeed in college or career training and then helping them prepare to start working in the world has been a privilege. I believe that all of us with Learning Differences are: “Made for good purpose and are inherently valuable.”
Michael McManmon, Ed.D.