June 11, 2014 - Autism News

What to consider when choosing the right college for a person with autism


In the past people with autism were often denied an education, and employment opportunities, but even today it can still be a struggle for young people with autism to get the right help and support in further education.  This leads to a lack of employment for adults with autism.  Despite that, many young autistic people still go to college and university and do very well, earning themselves qualifications and degrees that help them later on in life.

A large part of this owes to choosing the right college or university with the right levels of support.  This article is written with the purpose of suggesting some important questions it might be worth young people with autism, and their parents, asking, if they are looking to enrol in a college.

Deciding which college to attend can be a difficult process.  Below are some key points that might be worth considering:

•    Travel – how near is the college, and how is the young adult with traveling?  Does the college help with this?  For example, a college bus, or providing a taxi service.
•    What resources/programmes does the college have in place to help people with autism?  For example, do they have staff specifically to help autistic people in the classrooms?  Do they have a quiet area where students can go if things get too much for them?
•    Talk to other people who are either in the college or have been, and see what they have to say about their experience.  Obviously, if there are a lot of negative stories about it, then it may be worth investigating further before deciding to enrol.
•    How does the young adult feel when they visit the college?  Are they comfortable and at ease, and do they feel it is somewhere they would like to go back to?  This is one of the most important things when deciding on a college, as the young adult will be spending so much time there over the coming years.  Whatever they may have in place, if they young adult doesn’t feel safe and content there, then it may be worth continuing to look around other colleges.
•    What does the college offer autistic people?  Is it somewhere they can actually go and get an education?  Depending on what the young adult wants, it is worth looking in to what classes are provided for autistic people – is the help that will be extended to them on a special programme still given to them if they choose to take up a mainstream course?  How seriously does the college take providing a full and proper education to autistic students?
•    Flexibility – is the college willing to be flexible if the young adult cannot take on a full-time course?

All these points are worth taking in to consideration when looking for a college.  It all really depends on the young adult; what they feel they need, and what they feel comfortable with.  There is no set thing that would suit everybody, but the points listed above will always be important ones to consider.

By Paddy-Joe Moran