In high school, your teen on the autism spectrum (AS) may have had a number of different supports, services and accommodations. If he had an IEP or Section 504, these services were mandated and the school was held responsible for following through on both recognizing your child’s individual needs and creating an educational plan each year.
In college, however, things are different. Students with AS must provide the proper documentation to the college to show a disability - and each college may require different documentation; there is no standard paperwork to complete. It is also up to the student to request specific accommodations, such as extended time for tests, and show the need for each. Usually this is done through the disability services office, but not all colleges have such an office. And sometimes students with AS need accommodations outside of the classroom. They may need help with socialization or organization, things that may not be covered under disability services.
There are a number of colleges that offer services for those on the spectrum above and beyond those provided under disability services. There may be an additional fee for these types of services, but for those with ASD, the extra cost might be a good investment.
Some of the colleges that have specific programs for ASD:
Adelphi University - Garden City, N.Y. - Bridges to Adelphi Program - This program prodes help with organizational skills, time management, independent living skills and social skills training. It is for students with ASD, social anxiety disorder and nonverbal learning disabilities. The cost is in of $2,500.00 per semester is in addition to tuition and fees.
Bellevue College - Washington State - Autism Spectrum Navigators- This program is free for students attending Bellevue College (a 2 credit class must be taken each semester and you need to pay for those credits). The program, according to their facebook page, "helps students discover their personal strengths and find ways to support their areas of difficulty…The program is designed to increase accessibility to areas of college life and beyond, including academics, working with others, socializing and being in the community."
Eastern Michigan University - Michigan - Autism Collaborative Center - Available for students attending Eastern Michigan University or Washtenaw Community College. Program provides individualized support while attending college. Based on services, this program can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $8,500 per semester.
Eastern University - St. Davids, PA. - The College Success Program for Students Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder - Provides help with academics, social and life skills and cultural supports for undergraduate students. Cost is $6,500 per semester.
Fairleigh Dickinson University - Madison, NJ,- COMPASS Program - Available for 1st and 2nd year students at Fairleigh Dickinson University with Asperger’s syndrome. The program is limited to 6 students in each class and works to promote independence while giving academic and social support. The cost is $3,000 per semester.
Marshall University - West Virginia - Autism Training Center - Offers individualized skill building and therapeutic supports through a mentoring program for those enrolled at Marshall University. The cost is $3200 per semester.
Mercyhurst University - Erie, PA - Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) - Provides help navigating college life including eating in the cafeteria and dormitory, communicating with roommates, talking to professors, getting to classrooms, researching and writing term papers and using the library. Academics and social skills are emphasized.
Nova University - Ft. Lauderdale-Davie, FL - Access Plus - This program works with the Office of Student Disability to plan and review accommodations and inform faculty of accommodations. It also offers residential supports, campus life and social supports, weekly support groups and vocational assistance with career placement.
Rochester Institute of Technology - Rochestser, NY- Spectrum Support Program - Provides individualized help in transitioning to college life including peer coaching, specialized seminar classes and case management. Costs for new students is $1,200 per semester with decreases as students continue in later semesters.
Rutgers University - - College Support Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum - This program provides a coordinator to meet with the student once a week to work on creating and reaching goals. There are also mentor programs, social events and referrals to additional counseling as needed. Cost is $2,500 per semester.
Taft College, Taft, CA, Center for Independent Living - A program to work with students to gain independence after college.
University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa, AL - ASD College Transition and Support Program - Individualized help with self-advocacy, daily living and social skills for students transitioning to college life. Cost is $3,000 per semester.
University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, AK, Autism Support Program - Students receive help with academics including registering for classes, course material and assignments. Other support includes working to make sure needed accommodations are in place and developing independent living skills. Mentors also help with joining clubs, participating in sports and attending social events. The cost is $5,000 per semester.
University of Tennessee - Chattanooga, TN - MoSAIC - A yearlong course for students with ASD to improve executive functioning and social skills. A weekly class teaches how autism impacts daily life and meetings with a life coach twice a week helps with goal setting and working through issues on an individual basis.
Western Kentucky University - Bowling Green, KY - College and Circle of Support - When accepted into this program, students receive a private room (for the cost of a shared room), assistance with organization, tutoring and social activities. Each person in the program is assigned a mentor they meet with on a weekly basis. Participants also plan and attend social events. Cost is $2,000 per semester.
The number of colleges offering programs that specifically address the needs of students with ASD is growing. This list is not all-inclusive but provides some of the options. If your child is getting ready to attend college - check with the college to see if there are any specialized programs to help with the transition to college and in developing independent living skills.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.