July 8, 2008

Navigating Campus Life

Associated Press reporter Melissa Dutton has written an informative article on the interest many high school students living on the autism spectrum have in attending college, and the general supports some may need to be successful in that setting. (The article can be found at this link.)

Contained within the piece is information about the support program provided by Marshall University, and comments by some who receive services from the university.

Accompanying the article was Tips for College-Bound Students and Their Families. Considering the Fall semester begins in a few short weeks, these tips could not have been more timely. They include (taken from the published article):

Choosing a college

1. Decide whether the student is ready to move away from home.
2. Select a college that has a strong program in the student's area of interest.
3. Determine what size university is appropriate. Some students might thrive at a big university with large classes and public transportation; others will do better in a smaller setting.
4. Meet with the staff at the college's disability services office and find out whether anyone has specialized training in autism.
5. Find out whether students have good access to psychiatric services.

Prepare the student

1. Make sure the student has the basic skills to live on his or her own, such as knowing how to launder clothes, clean house, etc.
2. Encourage the student to take a class at a community college while still in high school to become familiar with the format of college classes.
3. Consider sending the student to camp or another program that requires them to temporarily live away from home.
4. Visit the campus and show the student where to go for meals, health care services, etc.

Recognize the differences between high school and college

1. Most colleges will not write a specialized plan for a student's education; it's up to the student to approach the university about his or her special needs.
2. Students are expected to advocate for themselves.
3. Remember that college students have more privacy rights than high school students, so it may be more difficult for parents to gain access to records.

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