So, there you have it...Chloe's top finalists. Vanderbilt held the #1 spot pretty blatantly, so we made the decision to apply for early decision and focus on that application first.
Maybe I'm biased but I feel like we've done a great job keeping Chloe as well-rounded as possible: academics, athletics, hobbies and work experience.
Academically, Chloe excels in a single subject area: science. And she's also more athletically inclined than I knew. So, as a parent, how do I combine her best skills to show off the best aspects of her? That was the goal - as it should be in any application process. At the same time, I wanted to give a very clear picture of what her strengths and weaknesses are so potential teachers had an idea of what kind of staffing and accommodations Chloe would require if she were to be admitted. It became clear rather quickly that I was in unfamiliar territory. Very much so.
I decided to take another look at the entrance requirements for Vandy's program as a basis for ideas.
After reading through these, we made an appointment at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee for a comprehensive, up-to-date neuropsychological evaluation.
Luckily, we discovered a source that understands and researches Williams Syndrome: http://uwm.edu/psychology/clinic/child-neuropsychology-specialty-clinic-2/
After seeing the difference in testing between a specialized clinic and the school district I feel I MUST pause right here and urge ALL parents and caregivers to get a good, valid neuropsych. For privacy reasons, I won't share the results of Chloe's but I can say that there was a huge disparity between what the school district tested and what the neuropsych clinic tested. I have come to several conclusions about this: the school pulls the same standard tests for everyone, some tests or battery of tests better show specific potential relative to different diagnoses, and no one mentions this to parents. So, What does this mean?
Your student MAY belong in a different placement entirely.
Your student MAY have hidden strengths or deficits that aren't being addressed.
You wouldn't know if you didn't get a second opinion.
Chloe and I stayed in Milwaukee for a couple of days and she completed her testing and I had a chance to discuss her college decision with Dr. Klein-Tasman. I won't speak for her but I will say that she helped me fine tune the pros and cons I had floating around in my head. Up until this point, we weren't overwhelmed by support from the school district, our family or really anyone other than the three of us. Don't get me wrong, we had a large audience of followers and onlookers and people rooting for Chloe, but college acceptance -- let alone a school with a reputation like Vanderbilt seemed to be a pipe dream. Which, oddly enough only made Chloe work THAT MUCH HARDER. She earned straight A's her first semester of senior year and won a peer-nominated fitness award. So, naturally, we didn't entertain the notion that Chloe may not attend the school of her dreams (although we did suggest she have several other options) -- we just kept plunging forward; blind ambition in tow.
In retrospect, I learned that there are people in life that hold you back and those that have your back. As a family, it was during this time that our bond strengthened. Immensely. Throughout this process we thought we were prepared to pay it forward, blaze the next trail and stand up and out in our usual blend of rebellion, sheer iron will and comic relief, but what we found out is that we were just as nervous as everyone else. And further, that it was okay and that holding onto each other made the situation better.
The results of Chloe's neuropsych came just before junior year ended and what they showed was that a modified college placement was definitely a possibility and a recommendation for Chloe.