College-bound with autism

The focus on kids who have autism sometimes makes it easy to forget … they grow up! The first big wave of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is moving beyond high school, and an Associated Press article outlines the challenges college students with autism might face.

Many students with Asperger’s or other autism-like disorders face new challenges in a college setting. The syndrome hampers communication and social skills, so along with difficulties staying on top of their studies, these students may struggle with making friends and living more independently. They also may be more reluctant to ask for help.

After highlighting a few colleges that have special services for students with autism and mentioning groups that are forming to address the needs of these students, the story gives this bit of advice:

Families looking for the right college for autistic kids should ask whether a school has a counselor who specializes in autism, if professors receive training about it, and what academic accommodations, such as additional time for taking tests, can be made, experts said. Students also should inquire about social opportunities: Does the school have an autism organization for students? Would the university help find a peer mentor?

I was glad to see media coverage of this aspect of autism. Higher education institutions usually make accommodations for students with disabilities, but universities are not legally bound to provide the extent of services that students receive between kindergarten and 12th grade.


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