A New Normal: Preparing Students on the Autism Spectrum for College
Students heading off to college can struggle with preparing for their new life (their “new normal”). This transition can be an even bigger struggle for students on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences.
How can this transition be made easier, smoother, and more enjoyable for these young adults?
It all begins with executive functioning and support from managing their time, advocating for themselves, to requesting accommodations in the classroom setting. When students develop executive functioning skills in the classroom it allows for a smoother transition, functions such as logic, strategy, planning, problem solving, information processing, and behavior control. According to the Autism and Learning Differences Teaching Toolkit there are a number of strategies students and professionals can incorporate to achieve academic success!
Help Students Manage Time During the Day
Divide large tasks into smaller segments
Use calendars and planners
Have a checklist/to do list with a timeline
Help students arrive to class on time by implementing alarms or electronic reminders into their daily routine
Prepare materials the night before so their morning isn’t rushed and stressful
Location, location, location
Show students how to create a dedicated individual, quiet workplace
Show students how to organize their personal work space
Schedule a time each week to organize their work space in an effort to avoid clutter
Keep backpacks, textbooks, etc in a designated place so students always remember where they are
Test Accommodations: Open book tests, extended test taking times, oral or fill in the blank tests
Tutorial support in class
Allowing lectures to be recorded so that the student can go back and listen slowly
Use of audio books, Kindles, Nooks, E-readers
Encourage students to ask for help when feeling overwhelmed
Seek support when they misunderstand
Always communicate with staff, tutors, family, and friends
Utilize the supports and guidance available to you, think and communicate before acting
Feed the Mind, Body, and Soul
Get out and have some fun with friends, make some down time
Go for a walk or to the gym
Meditate, take a yoga class, or sit in a park and read, or go to the beach
Students should listen to music that inspires and motivates them
It is important for students to have enough time to prepare for their “new normal” patience is key. A student should never feel rushed or be put into an academic course that they may not be ready for or interested in just for the sake of going to college. Families and professionals should create a roadmap for the student to reach his or her goal. The keys to academic success for students on the Autism spectrum are organization, time management, self perception and awareness, task initiation, communication, flexibility, and persistence but most importantly, they need to feel supported, valued, and encouraged!
How does High School differ from College? Download our guide to help make the transition clearer for your student.
About College Internship Program
The College Internship Program is a comprehensive transition program
for young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences. Our Mission is to inspire independence and expand the foundation on which young adults with Autism, ADHD, and other Learning Differences can build happy and productive lives.