Sunday, November 17, 2019

Mom is Back, and We Visit CIP and Indiana University

My wife returned from Japan a week ago. Kai and I had a great week together while she was gone, but he was very happy to have Mom home.

This weekend we took a trip to Bloomington, Indiana. It was about a five hour drive from our home north of Chicago.

A few weeks ago, we had gone to a college fair specifically for students with disabilities. One program that interested us is called College Internship Program, better known as CIP. CIP supports college-age students on the autism spectrum by providing academic support, training in life skills (as students live in apartments), executive functioning training, social skills development, and career support.

CIP also has a summer program for high school students where they can attend for two weeks and get a taste of college life by living in a dormitory while learning about what college would be like while also partaking in fun, summer camp-type activities.

The closest CIP location to us is in Bloomington, just a few blocks from the campus of Indiana University, and this weekend they had an Experience Day where we could meet the staff, hear about their program, go to a model apartment like the ones where their students live, and meet a few current CIP students. Ir was a great opportunity to learn about both the full-time and summer programs.

We came away very impressed. Our long-term goal for Kai is that he be able to live independently and get meaningful employment. CIP would provide great support in transitioning to independent living, while also providing Kai with the supports needed to succeed at college and provide him with the skills he would need to find employment. I don't think we can support Kai in this way as well as the many specialized CIP professionals can. But the cost of the program, and others like it, is extremely high. If Kai were to get into IU, entering him in the CIP program would essentially more than triple the cost of college versus going on his own without the program. And so this may not be an option for us, but we have two years to weigh the cost versus benefits, and to see if this would even be feasible.

The summer program, though, would provide a nice introduction for Kai, and give him experience in living away from home (i.e. away from Mom and Dad). Kai has always resisted the idea of overnight summer camps, but after meeting the CIP staff, hearing about the program, and seeing the Bloomington area, he seemed less resistant to this program. We're thinking through our options for next summer (including a potential return to Exceptional Minds), but the CIP summer program is something we'll give serious consideration.

After the Experience Day program ended at about lunchtime, we wanted to see some of the town and IU campus.

Our first stop was to get lunch at Bloomington Sandwich Co.

I had a tasty Italian beef, Kai had the Italian combo with beef and Italian sausage, and my wife had a great Reuben sandwich.

After lunch, as we walked toward the IU campus, we saw several trees wrapped with knitting.

We found out that this was part of the Wrapped in Love project to support victims of domestic violence.

And then we made it to the IU campus and entered through Sample Gates.

As we walked through Dunn's Woods, we were struck by the beauty and serenity of the campus. The following is Rose Well House which is one of the oldest structures on campus, and one of Indiana University’s most enduring symbols.

And here is the stain glass from one side of the roof of the Well House.

The following is a photo of Kai and I standing in front of Kirkwood Hall, which houses the School of Art and Design, and is one of the beautiful old buildings on campus.

As we walked further, we came across charming Beck Chapel.

And just beyond was another serene, wooded area.

IU is right up there as one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever been to. My wife was very impressed with the campus as well. I don't think she imagined that such a beautiful college could exist in the middle of Indiana.

Kai enjoyed the campus as well. I think the entire day opened his mind to the thought of college life.

It is uncertain whether Kai will attend any four-year university, let alone Indiana University, but this trip helped us all envision one possibility of what Kai's life beyond high school could potentially be like.

Now we have a lot of thinking to do.


  1. I had never heard of such a program. It sounds wonderful. Does Kai have a desire for a particular area of study or career path? I hope for the best for Kai.

    1. The program is wonderful. It's hard to imagine Kai being able to go away to college without having the supports this program provides. (BTW, CIP has five locations including one in Berleley). We will also investigate a similar program in Madison, WI near the University of Wisconsin.

      Kai does not know what he wants to study in college or for a career. So, we're trying to help him think this through, researching areas of study that seem to align with his general interests and skills. Kai enjoys developing his own simple animations so that area may be a possibility. His favorite class at school is chemistry so we're wondering if a science-related field could be appropriate for him as well. It's very hard to figure out. I didn't choose a major until junior year of college and probably would have gone a different route if I had to do it over again.


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