We support students who have completed high school or are about to finish high school education but have social, behavioral, or functioning challenges to enroll into colleges, whether local or online. We provide support through a holistic service, based on the students ideas and identified needs. An interest skills checklist is completed with the student to determine their likes and dislikes and also their skills in different academic and or vocational areas. A review discussion will take place with their current school or college and parents will be involved in this. Having a learning disability or autism, should not limit options.
Many of us fail to understand how the lack of institutional support services can hinder and impact the educational experience of students with disabilities. Although Qatar has laws in place to ensure students are not subject to discrimination; Law No. 2 of 2004 in respect of People with Special Needs, our schools are still not doing enough to ensure that students with special needs do graduate high school and move forward to college.
How can we help?
Many of the high school programs that include students with disabilities do not focus on interpersonal challenges and soft skills. Challenges such as studying, time management, and social demands can impact students’ successes and unfortunately, set them up for failure. In high school, a student has a schedule with one class after the other, followed by homework that is often supervised to some degree by a parent or guardian at home. In university, however, a student may have two classes back-to-back without any other classes for the next two days – a huge shift in schedule from what they’re typically used to in secondary education. There should be a “transition” process for both students and parents that focus on self-awareness, self-advocacy, self-determination, and accountability. We at MCSN work on those transition processes.
How do we do it?
We at MSCN work closely with our students. From the very first step of finding a college that is a good fit for the student and the family to ensuring that our student chooses a college that offers supportive and welcoming disability services, such as Qatar University. We guide our students in choosing a major or area of study that speaks to their specific needs and interests. We offer additional support by putting together a 10-week calendar, and we help our student manage the calendar and stay on top of their tasks.
We also help students deal with the stigma associated with learning disabilities. While learning disabilities awareness is improving overall, there will be times when challenges occur due to the larger community’s lack of education and understanding surrounding disabilities. We teach our students to accept their disabilities, talk about them and explain how their disabilities impacted their life and education. We mentor our students to fully embrace their learning differences and use them as an asset and as a tool to empower them and set them up for greater success.
While college or university is not for everyone, it most definitely is for anyone who wants to attend post-secondary education. We at MCSN give our students access to resources, opportunities, and mentorship to help them start and finish their education journey.