Autism and College
College for my autistic young adult starts on Monday.
Truth be told, it does freak me out a little. Mostly, how did this happen so soon??
It’s good news, though.
Because reaching college for a young person/child/teenager with autism isn’t a slam dunk.
Many individuals struggle through elementary and middle school.
Then, there’s high school.
Individuals on the autism spectrum have to navigate much more than a typical student to even reach high school. I know several individuals on the autism spectrum who are completing high school in non-traditional ways. It’s the best way for them to learn.
Therefore, students can reach that college goal these days, but I believe there are a variety of ways in which that goal can be accomplished.
What happened with my child before high school?
Academic success came with a school aide plus a lot of home support.
In other words, we had our village.
The school aide lasted through middle school–he had an aide for his first two classes of the day because those classes had labs/group work.
What happened at the high school level?
Our son told us he no longer needed an aide.
The first month or so was a bit rough, but after that, he did fine.
On his own. (Okay, yes, that home support remained in place!)
What about college?
College involves more than just the intelligence, preparation, and ability to organize the work. The ways of studying intensify as well as the amount of work.
In addition, there’s the social piece. Which means there’s more than just in-person classes and maybe bumming into someone outside of class.
For instance, if a student wants to, they can get involved in lots of college-related activities, on and off campus.
There are different ways to approach college
Some individuals thrive in college because they can handle the work with their strong study skills and, furthermore, they accept that college can be managed with independence.
Some on the autism spectrum already have that independence piece. Some prefer it.
Still, traditionally, college comes with more than just the classes and the grades.
There’s that social piece.
What does that mean?
In my day, college meant classes, sports, and a social life. I had three things to balance. The social piece came after high school for me (because in high school the sports was my social life).
Let’s look at what college students today face.
It this how my child will begin college?
This fall, my son will begin college at home with remote learning (due, of course, to Covid/Delta).
The college will re-evaluate the remote learning in October.
Therefore, for the time being, college will look a lot like high school.
And, that will mean what?
I think it will mean he’ll have to take it one step at a time.
Above all, he’s ready to go to college and looks forward to his next chapter.
Even if his parents are ready, we’re excited to watch him move forward.
In conclusion, this whole college thing will be handled with forethought and intelligence. My son has the skills for this chapter of his life. We believe in him. We are his biggest cheerleaders.
I’ll do my best to hide my mini-freak outs, and support him as I always do. (Because, that at home support thing never really goes away).
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