College & Autism

Some teens with autism will opt to continue their education at college. Going to college is a huge decision (both financially and socially) for any kid, and doubly so for kids with autism.

What do kids with autism need to do to ensure a successful college education? Is it different from that of a neurotypical kid? Let’s take a look.

Social Planning

People with autism can have social difficulties, especially when it comes to making time for social events and picking up on cues given in social situations. Planning ahead for these situations can make them a bit easier.

Scheduling events well ahead of time is a great way for teens with autism to remember that a special event is happening on a given day. Having a peer buddy can also help with social situations–someone to help ease the burden of deciphering neurotypical social actions, expressions, and cues.


Keeping your schedule, materials, and living space organized are keys to success in general. Making sure a college student with autism is organized can help them thrive in a purely academic situation.

Make sure to have detailed calendars ready before each month starts. Have specific places for all books, materials, and other needs. Schedule a specific time to clean and reorganize anything that needs it. Taking steps like these can help college students with autism stay organized and ready for class.

Planning for the Transition to College

College is a huge change to the lifestyle of every kid who decides to go. Making sure your child knows what the transition entails is crucial to their college experience.

Even teens who attend local or community colleges and live at home will need to know what to expect academically. Most college programs entail long classes/lectures and looser work/homework schedules than K-12. Making sure your child knows that school is about to change is a very important step towards a successful transition to college.

Preparing for Independent Living

Kids with autism heading off to college and not living at home need to be prepared for the rigors of daily living. No mom & day or other caregivers will be around to help during most days. This means that preparations need to be made and expectations need to be set.

Make sure that your child has a full list of what they will need to do in college. This includes things like:

  • Eating (times and what is being eaten)
  • Sleeping (scheduling is necessary)
  • Cleaning & Organizing
  • Laundry
  • Knowing what to do in outstanding situations (class cancellations etc)
  • Having emergency contacts and knowing when to use them

College and University Academic Support

Many colleges and universities offer academic support programs for students with disabilities and special needs. A great way to learn more about this before applying or even enrolling in college is to speak to a high school counselor. Many counselors for upperclassmen will be familiar with available programs and can help gather information about prospective schools.

College admissions counselors are also able to answer questions about the university they represent. Be sure to call and ask questions about academic support, programs, and modifications to learning curriculums for students with special needs.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Recent Posts