Top 5 Tips for Online College Students with Autism

Around 1/3 of Autistic high school students go onto college. Good news, right? How many graduate? Not many.

Learning can be a challenge for “our kids” on the Spectrum. They need supports from high school + more. Here are 5 tips and tricks to smooth out the ride to college academic and social success.

  1. Encourage adaptability. 
    1. Establish structure and rules. Stick to them 100%.
    2. Take responsibility for daily tasks. Include the weekends.
    3. Own successes and failures. Not just what, but why too. 
  2. Promote social and expressive communication supports. 
    1. Encourage personal independence. Ask, not asked by others.
    2. Break large tasks down into smaller ones. Repeat.
    3. Use with increased stress and anxiety. Look for the first signs of trouble. 
  3. Customize a schedule. 
    1. Write an “ideal day.”
    2. Be patient and realistic.
    3. Build in physical and creative activities. 
  4. Incorporate social development. 
    1. Include teachable moments in lieu of punishments (meltdowns, outbursts).
    2. Make a homebase room/area.
    3. Enact social/friendship groups around “obsessions” (Best Buddies). 
  5. “Autism-proof” academics. 
    1. Use visual aids to support communication. Tech too.
    2. Minimize classroom stimuli. Don’t forget background noise like heat, air conditioning, lights.
    3. Provide very literal, specific instructions. Include frequent breaks before they’re needed.

Teachers and parents:  Consider time passed and time remaining, predictability, and expectations.

          Both yours and theirs.


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