DEAR ABBY: Our son, "Jason," has decided to leave college with only two semesters left in order to pursue his love of river guiding and outdoor programs. While he was in school, his father and I paid for his cell phone, health and car insurance, and his rent because we wanted his focus to be on his studies. We also paid his tuition.
Jason has a part-time job. Now that he has decided to leave school, our view is that he should find another job and assume these expenses.
My husband and I disagree about who should pay for any future education Jason wants. If he goes back to school, his tuition will be paid for, says Dad. I think we would be enabling him if he thought we were always standing by to foot the bill.
We are heartsick that Jason has made this decision, but his mind is made up. Any advice from you would be appreciated. -- UNHAPPY MOM IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR UNHAPPY: I agree that Jason should shoulder the responsibility for his living expenses. However, do not make any hard and fast decisions about his tuition while you are still angry at him. This situation will play out. If and when Jason decides to complete his education, discuss the matter of tuition then.
DEAR ABBY: Do you know what a speech-generating device is? A lot of people don't. It's a specialized computer that speaks for people who are unable to communicate verbally.
We're a group of campers from Camp Courage who use speech-generating devices to talk. Sometimes people are uncomfortable with our unique way of communicating. We'd like to share some ideas to help them understand:
1. Please be patient. It takes us a little bit longer to get our messages out than it does you.
2. Feel free to ask questions. Don't pretend to understand us if you don't.
3. Do not think we are stupid. Have you ever tried to communicate using one of these things?
4. If it looks like we're having trouble, ask if we need help.
5. Treat us like adults -- just as you would want to be treated.
6. If you're curious, you can look at our devices. It's OK to ask. We're not all the same.
7. Be our friend. If you do, you'll find we have a lot of interesting things to say.
Abby, thanks for helping us communicate our message. We hope to speak to you again! -- CAMILLE, HEATHER, JOEL, JOHN, NAT AND NICOLE
DEAR CAMILLE, HEATHER, JOEL, JOHN, NAT AND NICOLE: I'm pleased to help spread the word. For people who are vocally challenged, you have written an eloquent letter.
Assistive technologies have come a long way in recent years to ensure that people with disabilities are more fully able to participate in business as well as society. These advances are constantly evolving -- and as they do there must also be an "evolution" on the part of the larger community toward acceptance of people who are perceived as different.