The Rising Need for College Programs with Autism

Forbes has discussed in a recent article, the rising need for college programs with autism. With children on the autism spectrum rising from 1 in 150 to 1 in 88 in the past ten years, colleges are beginning to acknowledge the need for these young individuals to receive a college degree. The article offers recommendations on what to look for when college hunting for their loved ones with autism, including…class size, number of students, easy-to-navigate campuses, and support offered. Colleges and universities have established programs for supportive services including academic and executive functioning tutoring, anxiety reduction instruction, and social skill workshops. The average program is quoted to run an additional $3,000 per semester (Forbes, 2014).

Schools highlighted in this article include:

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). “RIT is a co-op school, meaning that they require students to have real, paid work experience before they can graduate, and attracts about 20-30 students on the spectrum each year. The Spectrum Support Program specializes in job preparation and offers a 15-week program involving in-depth seminars on job interviews, networking, resume building, behavioral based interview questions and body language tips that bolster students’ confidence in the job search process. RIT caters to the more independent, high-functioning students. Students meet with the staff at most three hours per week—one-hour group meetings and two one-hour individual meetings. First year students pay up to $1,600 per term at RIT on top of tuition, and upperclassmen with less support can pay up to $1,400 (Forbes, 2014).

Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA “offers an entire residence hall devoted to the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) program. It is a Living Learning Environment that houses twenty-five students on the spectrum and one graduate student mentor. They provide optional meal gatherings, coordinate Asperger support group meetings, and group outings to events on and off campus (Forbes, 2014).”

Rutgers University aims to “fully mainstream their students on the spectrum. Rutgers students can be placed in dorms anywhere on campus and take any classes. “We want them to function as Rutgers students because they came here to be Rutgers students,” says Pam Lubbers, coordinator of College Support Program for Students on the Autism Support Spectrum (CAPS) at the university.”

Nova Southeastern University, in Fort Lauderdale, FL, “will receive its first student this coming fall and offers a very individualized plan. Each student has a unique plan of support based on what they need assistance with, which always evolves over time. This school will offer 10-hour per week peer mentoring, monitored study hall two hours a day, five days per week, weekly psychoeducational group meetings, physical/occupational therapy sessions and have someone on call for needed support 24 hours/day. They also plan to have students complete volunteer or paid work experience before they graduate so they can gain experience in the interviewing process, resume writing, working under a supervisor and with co-workers while they have support. The cost for these services is $8,000 on top of tuition.”

You can view the Forbes article here:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/paigecarlotti/2014/07/31/more-colleges-expanding-programs-for-students-on-autism-spectrum/

What initially interested me in this article came from an experience I had at Adelphi University, where I received my Master’s Degree. While attending a lecture from the renowned Temple Grandin, the Adelphi Bridge’s Program was introduced to the audience. See below for a description:

Adelphi University The bridges to Adelphi program assists students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorders. “This program is designed to enhance college life for students with nonverbal learning disabilities by providing help with organizational skills, time management, independent living skills and social skills training. Using social learning and cognitive behavioral principles as theoretical foundations, Bridges to Adelphi is a multifaceted intervention program that includes coaching, learning strategies, behavioral modeling, and peer mentoring (Adelphi, 2014).”
http://students.adelphi.edu/sa/bridges/

More local programs include:

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) NYIT offers the Vocational Independence Program (VIP) for students who have moderate to severe learning disabilities as well as functioning autism and spectrum disorders. “Students may enter either the Vocational concentration, or the Degree Prep concentration if qualified. The NYIT degree program places students on an associate or bachelor’s degree track. Students in both tracks are full-time students and live on the Central Islip campus in a residence hall staffed by VIP faculty and professionals. They participate in the full range of student life offerings, including social and recreational activities.
In addition to NYIT activities, VIP offers specialized trips and activities: from day trips to weekend outings to a week in Europe. Upon entering the program as freshmen, VIP students are assigned academic, social and career counselors, and financial advisors who meet with them weekly and on an “as needed” basis.
The Vocational Independence Program accepts a freshman class of approximately 45 students. It is recommended that students apply as early as possible as space is limited (NYIT, 2014).”
http://www.nyit.edu/ask/General_Information/what_is_the_vocational_independence_vip_program

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One thought on “The Rising Need for College Programs with Autism

  1. Pingback: A Student Residence Hall Withing the Santa Barbara, USA - Choose My Room

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