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Post-High-School Planning Resources for Autistic Students

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Vanessa Garrido Glogower College Coach

Written by Vanessa Garridoon May 2nd, 2023

My career has been dedicated to education and educational access. After graduating from Reed College, I joined the admissions team at my alma mater. I then became Director of Multicultural Recruitment at Reed, reading applications from students of color from every state in the U.S., and organizing and hosting visit programs for our prospective students of color. After working in admissions, I decided to pursue a career in teaching. I completed the New York City Teaching Fellows program and became a high school English and special education teacher in the Bronx, and, later, in Brooklyn. In those roles, I supported the college counseling offices at each school, working with students from a variety of different backgrounds and learning abilities as they navigated the college admissions process. I then taught at an alternative school in Walla Walla, WA, where I helped students meet their high school graduation requirements and explore their educational futures. I have also worked as an independent tutor and college counselor, helping students carve out their unique educational paths to college or vocational programs. I have experience as a creative writer and editor, and I love working with students on their college essays.
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by Vanessa Garrido, former admissions officer at Reed College The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published updated data sharing that about one in 36 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). If you’re an autistic student, there are a wide variety of accommodations, college support programs, and vocational options to explore. You may consider a two-year or four-year college path (here are tips for that search process), transition programs, or vocational training. This blog highlights specific programs and resources to consider as you and your family explore your postsecondary educational pathway. Highlights from College Support Programs
  • Adelphi University’s Bridges Program for neurodivergent students includes the first sensory room developed within an institution of higher education, dedicated career counseling services for students with disabilities, and a Summer Launch Program to prepare students for the transition to college. Students can enroll in the fee-based Bridges Program after being accepted to the university and scheduling a meeting with the program director.
  • The University of Alabama Autism Spectrum Disorder College Transition and Support (UA-ACTS) program collaborates with the university’s Office of Disability Services, Department of Psychology, and Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic. UA-ACTS provides academic, social, and daily living skill support services to autistic students who attend the University of Alabama and are accepted into the fee-based program.
  • Bellevue College’s Occupational and Life Skills A.A. degree provides neurodivergent students with learning disabilities various career pathways that include interpersonal skills development and internships. Eighty-five percent of Bellevue’s OLS graduates continue their education beyond their A.A. or find employment.
  • California State University East Bay’s College Link Program (CLP) provides support and resources for autistic students. The CLP seeks to help participants increase independence and academic success by offering support for the development of academic and social skills, career preparation, and independent living. The CLP’s Creativity Lab partners with the theatre and dance departments to collaborate on creative projects. While CLP is a fee-based program, Cal State East Bay also partners with Ohlone College’s Tri-Cities Career Center to offer an educational grant program through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The grant could provide partial or full funding for eligible certificate programs.
  • Drexel’s Center for Autism and Neurodiversity (CAN) collaborates with the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute to support Drexel’s neurodivergent students. CAN is a fee-based program in which participants receive one-on-one academic and employment coaching, peer mentoring, and independent living support.
  • George Mason’s Mason Autism Support Initiative (MASI) is a fee-based program that connects autistic students with learning strategists (graduate students or professionals who support academic and social success), peer mentors, social events, and individualized courses. The application-based program also offers the MASI Scholarship and financial need-based assistance opportunities.
  • Landmark College created a robust Social Pragmatic Support Services for neurodivergent students. The program includes PEERS (a social skills intervention program), early orientation, parent sessions, and more. The program is fee-based and tailored to individual student needs (i.e., PEERS is not required and may be a good fit for some students but not others).
  • Merrimack College’s Activate Program provides tailored support for students who identify as autistic or on the autism spectrum. Their fee-based services include one-on-one coaching, mentorship, and a first-year program specifically for Activate students.
  • Rutgers connects with the university’s Center for Adult Autism Services to offer an application- and fee-based College Support Program (CSP) to autistic students. The program includes weekly meetings with a CSP coordinator, academic and counseling referrals and supports, and trained peer mentors.
Transition and Vocational Program ResourcesResources Books, Films, and Podcasts:
  • A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (2014) by Haley Moss
  • College on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent's Guide to Students' Mental Health and Wellbeing (2020) by Laurie Leventhal-Belfer, PhD
  • Developing College Skills in Students with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome (2010) by Sarita Freedman
  • Developing Workplace Skills for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The BASICS College Curriculum (2016) by Michelle Rigler, Amy Rutherford, and Emily Quinn
  • Improving Your College Experience: A Workbook for Students on the Autism Spectrum (2021) by Linda Murdock, PhD
  • Navigating College: A Handbook on Self Advocacy Written for Autistic Students from Autistic Adults (2013) by Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Melody Latimer, and Jim Sinclair
  • Realizing the College Dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome: A Parent’s Guide to Student Success (2005) by Ann Palmer
  • The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum (2012) by Jane Thierfeld Brown EdD, Lorraine Wolf PhD, Lisa King MEd, G. Ruth Bork MEd
  • Autism Goes to College film
  • Autism Goes to College podcast
  • College, Disabilities, and Success podcast
  • The Neurodiversity podcast
  • The Autism Show podcast

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