How To Help Your Autistic Child Go To College

Seeing your child graduate from high school is exciting. With diploma in hand, they’re ready to take the next step into young adulthood. And while many have already chosen their preferred university and been accepted, others may still be wondering if going to college is right for them, especially if they have a learning disability like autism. If your son or daughter has autism and is questioning whether they’ll be successful at a college or university, here’s a few things to keep in mind before you proceed down that path.

Learning Options

Most universities offer a variety of services to students with autism. However, as robust as these services are, a lot of students do require additional help outside the classroom. Academic advising, peer tutors and even extra guidance on college life can make adjusting to college life a little easier. Because college life is so much different than high school, specifically the increased need for independence, it’s not uncommon for students with autism to feel overwhelmed. Thankfully, most universities also offer transition programs, which bridge the gap between high school and higher education learning.

There are several ways you child can earn a bachelor’s degree. In addition to traditional on-campus learning, many universities and community colleges now offer hybrid courses and distance learning options. Hybrid learning usually consists of some in-person classes and other lessons that are done online. Distance learning is completely online from the comfort of home. This type of learning is beneficial for students who suffer from autism and other learning disabilities, like ADHD.

Separate and Individual Models

These two types of learning environments, students may take courses with students who have similar disabilities or have a one-on-one tutor. In either case, students receive the help they need based on personal goals and level of disabilities.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Deciding to further their studies can be stressful, so the last thing you want to do is add to that. Instead of telling them the where and why, let them know how much you believe they can be successful and have faith in their decision. Ask which schools they’re considering and then help them weigh the pros and cons of each one.

They should start by listing all reasons why they want to attend a particular school. It could be because of a phenomenal scholarship program or because the education they’ll receive is unparalleled. If it’s a question of finances, you should think about applying for a loan with a private lender. Even if your child is eligible for financial aid, it might not cover all of their expenses. With private student loans, they can usually offer better terms with lower interest rates. It can also offset the need to take from your savings to help fund your child’s education, and you can ever be a cosigner to help with the approval process.

Ask About Their Interests

In order for your child to truly succeed in college, they need to pursue a field in something they are interested in. Sometimes, your child may be incredibly vocal about things they enjoy the most. This makes it easier for you to help them figure out what type of degree they should work towards. However, other teens may be more reserved, which is surprisingly common when someone carries a diagnosis of autism.

If this is the case with you and your teen, there are ways to approach this situation. Ask your child questions such as what is something they prefer doing in your free time? Second, pay attention to their behavior patterns. For example, talking about various animals may inspire an intense motivation from your child who is passionate about them. You need to know what buttons to push to get a genuine response from them.

Have Them Undergo Occupational Therapy

After figuring out what your child is interested in, the next step is to prepare them. However, autism can make simple tasks seem difficult. Autism spectrum disorder can make it difficult for people to communicate properly. In addition, since people with autism can have trouble adjusting to change, occupational therapy can help them overcome any roadblocks they encounter when transitioning.

Occupational therapy is also helpful in teaching the necessary life skills needed for everyday living. The learning aspect is the most important by far, since it helps people with autism integrate properly into new situations. Learning effective communication is also important as they’ll need it to talk with their professors and to discuss things they may not know much about, like financial aid or even giving oral presentations.


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