Sending your child off to college for the first time makes every parent nervous, but that concern is greatly magnified for parents of children with Asperger’s. Parents of kids with AS often worry how their children will handle academic challenges, as well as social and emotional pressures. No parent wants to set their child up for failure, which is why it is important to evaluate your child’s college-readiness and find a supportive school that is the best fit for your child. The good news is there are many options for college and different approaches are right for different kids.
How do I know if my child is ready for college?
Not every teen is ready for college immediately after high school, whether they have Asperger’s or not. To have a successful experience in college, your teen must be aware of his/her strengths, challenges, limitations and responsibilities. In addition, it is critical that teens with AS be able to advocate for themselves. Will your child ask for help from teachers and peers when needed? Many of the support systems, including yourself, that helped guide your child through high school may not be available to them in college, which is why a positive college experience hinges on your child’s self-awareness and self-advocacy.
What should I look for in a college?
There is no one size fits all college, but these questions to consider when researching colleges:
- Will your child go to school full time, part time or take classes online?
- Keep in mind that taking classes online offers some relief for those who struggle with harsh lighting and noise distortion, however online classes require more self-discipline.
- How far from home is your child comfortable going?
- What is the average class size?
- Will your child live at home or are they comfortable with the idea of living in a dorm?
If your child is living in a dorm, he may want to inform the administration that he has Asperger’s, request a private room or ask to be placed on a “study floor”.
- Does the school have academic programs for children with organizational disabilities?
- How far apart are the classes?
- Does the school offer on-site coordinators who meet with Asperger’s students, monitor their academic performance and provide feedback?
How much support can I expect from the school?
The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), mandated that all non-religious colleges must have an Office of Student Disabilities or an ADA Compliance Officer, for students to find different types of assistance, from counseling to tutoring. Some schools take this mandate more seriously than others, in that some schools offer only what is required by federal law and may even have poorly trained personnel available, while others strive to do all they can to help students succeed on campus.
For information on specific schools, College Xpress has identified a list of schools that are Asperger’s friendly and a list of very friendly schools for students with Asperger’s. In addition, we offer transition services to help students envision a productive, achievable and stimulating future.