During the summer, parents begin preparing to send their young adults off to college. With 1 in every 59 children in the United States now being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more and more colleges and universities across the country are opening their doors and tailoring their programming to suit the needs of students with autism. Many postsecondary institutions, as well as parents of teens and young adults on the spectrum, are recognizing the critical need for greater transition support and adult services options as opposed to only offering pediatric aged services for those with autism, which are far more plentiful.
In an effort to guide parents and families looking for postsecondary support programming for their child, I have included in this post a list of the top 10 college support programs for students with autism in 2019 as ranked by BestValueSchools.com. The list actually ranked 20 schools, but for the sake of time and expediency, I have chosen to only feature the top 10 in this blog post. To view the full list, go to: https://www.bestvalueschools.com/rankings/students-with-autism/
A note on the methodology: Researchers created a list of all the public and private universities in the U.S. that offered support specifically to students with autism. General learning disability support programs did not count. Then, they carefully examined the quality and comprehensiveness of the resources offered. Each program was awarded either 0, 10, or 20 points based on the quality of the resources offered in five areas aimed at making students with autism happier and safer on campus:
- Social Supports (such as peer mentoring, social skills development, or group activities)
- Academic Supports (such as tutoring and study hall)
- Functioning Supports (such as life counseling or coaching, daily check-ins, or advocacy support)
- Employment Supports (such as career training, interview help, and job connections)
- Residential Supports (such as designated living quarters, single room options, ASD knowledgeable residential assistants)
The following are the top 10 colleges and universities ranked by BestValueSchools.com for 2019:
10. Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
Burkhart Transition Academy
9. Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
Autism Services Center
8. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
The College Support Program (CSP) For Students on the Autism Spectrum
7. University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism Inclusion on Campus (MOSSAIC) Program
6. Defiance College, Defiance, OH
ASD Affinity Program
5. Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA
Boro Autism Support Initiative For Success (BASIS) Program
4. Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY
Kelly Autism Program
3. Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA
Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) Program
2. University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL
Argos for Autism Program
1. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
ASD College Transition and Support (ACTS) Program
Please understand that a college or university that is the right fit for your child’s peers with or without autism, may or may not be the right fit for your child. Finding the right college or university will likely take time and collaboration to build the necessary support network, but provided such supports are in place, college can be a wonderful experience for your child. I hope this list has helped you in your journey to send your student on his or her way to a successful and fulfilling adult life.
Looking for resources to help with autism and the transition from school to college? Here are some books the Library at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community has to offer. Contact the Library at email@example.com to check them out.
Going to College with Autism: Tips and Strategies from Successful Voices by Emily Rutherford
Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adolescents and Adults: Evidence-Based and Promising Interventions edited by Matt Tincani and Andy Bondy.