Over the past 12 years, Utah's Sharla Jordan has seen four of her six sons diagnosed with autism. Witnessing one diagnosis after another, Jordan spent many of those years experiencing a wide range of feelings.
"I have gone through all kinds of emotions," Jordan said. "I have gone through anger, denial, blame, sadness, acceptance. It is never just one, and I probably cycle through those emotions every time something new comes up."
After receiving several misdiagnoses from doctors and struggling to understand the ins and outs of autism, the stay-at-home mom began researching the disorder to improve her knowledge of how she could best help her children, even publishing a book in October. Then, after years of research, Jordan decided to go back to school and pursue a bachelor's degreein psychology, as it would allow her to further her understanding of autismwhile earning credits.
Although it had been more than 10 years since she had earned an associate's degree, Jordan began taking classes toward her bachelor's degree last fall. So far, she said the experience of being an adult learner is different than being a younger student.
For example, as she is now raising six children between the ages of 4 and 16, Jordan must find fool-proof ways to manage her time. Currently, she is taking advantage of her college's online and independent courses, which allow her to stay home with her youngest son while also working toward a degree. When her son is old enough to go to school for the day, she plans on trekking to campus to complete her courses.
Although going back to school is a daily challenge, Jordan does not regret her decision. For adults who are thinking of making the same life change, she says it is important for them to think about why they are going back to school and use that as motivation. Of course, for Jordan, the thought of being able to better understand her four autistic sons is enough to keep her focused.
"If they have that desire or motivation, go back and do it," Jordan said. "It's never too late to go back to school. If you have finished a degree in something you can always go back and do something else. Just because we seek out to do one thing, 10 or 20 years later there may be a totally different road that we've taken since then."