College Programs and Students with ASD

Prepared by Juhi Singh
FAU CARD Research Assistant May, 2016

An increasing number of people with ASD are attending college and universities. Some will require no special supports beyond those offered to all students. Some may require extensive one-to-one support, specialized counseling, and other support.

Here are a number of programs around the country that are noteworthy for having some degree of specialized program or program options to help students with ASD.

A note of caution: A program at great distance from family, even if it has great support services, may not be the best option. Families often continue to be an important source of support during the college years and even beyond.

It is an exciting time for a student with ASD to attend higher education. We have a rapidly expanding array of special support programs if they are needed and we can expect to see many more specialized programs in the future. 

Impressive College Programs for Students with Autism

Recognized colleges for people with Autism according to

Drexel University Autism Support Program: Drexel has one of the most comprehensive autism support programs out there for college students today, aiming to create a more diverse experience that includes those with not only cultural differences, but neurological ones as well. Through the DASP, students can find peer mentor training, support from advisors, as well classes and programs to help them better adapt to life in college. Additionally, students can work to become advocates for the condition on campus and eventually pay their help forward by supporting successors.

Rutgers Developmental Disabilities Center: Students with autism at Rutgers are offered several options that can improve their college experience. From getting a single dorm with no roomies to accommodations that can help in the classroom, the school is taking a serious look at ways they can attract and assist students with autism spectrum disorders. Students can check out the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center for additional help from other students, psychologists and other professionals, or enroll in the Asperger’s Disorder College Program – which provides goal development, meetings with team members, orientations to campus life and helpful guidance for socializing and studying.

Mercyhurst College AIM Program: Students at Mercyhurst who have an autism disorder never need to feel alone on campus. The school offers a program designed to help students with autism called the Asperger’s Initiative at Mercyhurst, offering support in the academic and social aspects of attending college alike. Students enrolled in the program will get group and individual help with building communication skills, researching and writing papers, developing social skills and other aspects of college with which many students struggle. The program is in its third year and still going strong, making Mercyhurst a strong contender for students who have an autism spectrum disorder.

Midwestern State University: This school thought it was wise to help students with autism meet their college goals by creating a support program. Through it, students with a range of autism disorders can find help from counselors and peers. They may live in a special house on campus along with two peer mentors, where they will gain the skills they need to learn to live independently and become a successful college student. Additionally, they will receive help from staff members with any problems they may face in adjusting to their new life. While the program is doing well, it still needs additionally financing to help it continue through 2012.

St. Joseph’s University Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support: While not as comprehensive as some of the other autism programs, students at St. Joseph’s will still find some great resources through the Kinney Center that make getting a higher education a little less daunting. The Center not only reaches out to the larger community to promote autism advocacy, but also helps students with learning more about the disorders and how to live on campus. Additionally, they organize events and courses that can be of great interest to those with autism and can help individuals get out and make new friends.

University of Alabama College Transition and Support Program: Through this college program, students will get help improving their study skills and other academics while also learning about what will help them better interact with peers, teachers and others on campus. Founded in 2006, the program works with a few students each year, providing them with support from faculty, clinical psychologists and graduate students. The creators hope it will help students gain the skills they’ll need to not only succeed in college, but live as an independent adult and work in their chosen career field as well.

Autism Collaborative Center at Eastern Michigan University: This autism support program is one of the most comprehensive, but also one of the most expensive — sometimes running parents up to $8,500 per semester. Offers services to all ages. Yet it provides support in every aspect of college life and will help students to steadily improve both academically and in socially throughout their time in school. Help from the ACC can range from nutrition therapy to academic support, and students will not only be able to interact with staff, but also a large number of autistic students from the college and the surrounding community.

Marshall University Autism Training Center: Students who choose to attend Marshall will have access to its Autism Training Center. This organization offers a number of programs that can help college students learn to better manage their classroom assignments, make new friends and learn to live independently. They’ll also receive support from advisers on a daily or weekly basis, meet with professors and get help finding social activities on campus. Parents and students should be aware, however, that this support doesn’t come cheaply and can run as much as $3,200 a semester– a price that many are willing to pay to get the help and guidance they need.

Lynn University: Lynn University held a conference with experts in helping students with learning differences, including autism, transition from high school to higher education. The program Lynn University has planned for this year contains 18 breakout sessions and 14 session speakers.

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