Moving Forward: A Journey Towards Independence

Children become independent in different ways and at different times. Just ask a parent. It can seem that one day, they’re in a car seat, and the next, they’re asking to borrow the car. And sometimes, depending on the kid, they go halfway around the world for the summer to study physics.

The latter of these took Dee Reising by surprise. She knew her son Kieran had a knack for physics. That was evident by the fact that it was his chosen major at Georgia College and State University, which itself wasn’t much of a surprise at all.

“He’s a thinker. He’s always thinking about how things are created, and he’s always loved science and math,” Dee said. “He’s interested in the concept of the universe and how it started and what it can do and where we came from.”

The decision to travel to Glasgow this past summer marked a new level of independence for Kieran, a stark departure from the young boy who resisted change and transition at every turn. Kieran, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at a young age, first began to really turn a corner in high school, Dee said. There, he was presented with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which was ultimately aimed at helping him make the transition from the highly- structured environment of high school to the more rigorous challenges of college. As part of his plan, it was suggested by his school guidance counselor that he reach out to GVRA. Kieran worked with vocational rehabilitation staff to ensure that he had what he would need to make the next step. Services included helping him afford assistive technology and books, as

well as therapy related to accepting and dealing with change. And it couldn’t have worked any better, Dee said. Over time, Kieran grew out of his shell, and when the time came to head to college, Dee said she knew he was ready.

“Change can be hard, and we really wanted a smooth transition so he could be as successful as possible,” she said. “He was anxious about it … but he was very excited and felt like he was not being ostracized for who he was. I could tell that was exciting to him.”

Kieran’s excitement about his future only grew once he got to GCSU in Milledgeville. After arriving on campus, he dove headfirst into his studies, and as a result, opportunities began to surface that he would’ve once only dreamed of. In early 2019, he was given the opportunity to study for the summer at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and he jumped at the chance.

“It’s amazing to see what he can do when he puts his mind to it,” Dee said.

Following his return from the U.K., Kieran transferred to Georgia Tech. He’s still studying physics, and he’s still chasing his dream. None of it would have happened, Kieran said, without the help of GVRA and all those who came together to support him.

“GVRA has provided me with many great opportunities to make connections in the field of physics,” he said. “This program has provided me the opportunity to receive a very strong education. I’m very thankful.”