Students with Asperger's syndrome can become lonely and isolated when they leave home for college. Without the support systems they've had at home, they can struggle with choosing courses, understanding assignments, making friends and taking tests. Help a son or daughter with Asperger's to succeed in college by choosing a school that includes support structures in campus life and dorms, counseling, academic programs, and faculty and staff.
Campus Life and Dorms
Students with Asperger's can struggle to adjust to dorm life and roommates, but a single room isn't the solution. The Asperger Center advises against single rooms because they contribute to loneliness and isolation, which is always a challenge for students with AS. Instead, select a college with dorms that provide peer assistance, resident advisers and structured living schedules such as regular mealtimes and curfews. Choose a college with orderly and clean dorms close to laundry services, dining halls and classrooms.
Counseling and Advising
Students with Asperger's can thrive in college as long as their needs are met by strong disabilities services. Learning disabilities specialist Casey Dixon advises choosing a college with a clinical psychologist on staff. Select a college with a career counseling office and free counseling services. The college should also offer disability accommodations, including extra time for tests, trained tutors familiar with Asperger's and a dedicated space for test-taking.
Structured Academic Programs
Choosing the right academic program and meeting the expectations of professors are both challenging for students with Asperger's, says disability advising specialist LaDonna Bridges. Increase your son or daughter's chances of college success by picking a school with written, structured academic programs in their area of interest. Ask college admissions officers to tell you about other successful students with Asperger's who've attended the school before making your final choice.
Individual Faculty Attention
Individual attention from trained staffers will give students with Asperger's the support they need to excel academically. Your son or daughter will benefit from a college with a low faculty-and-staff-to-student ratio. Ask admissions staffers whether faculty members have received training in how to work with students with Asperger's. Choose a college that will assign a trained faculty adviser who will work one-on-one with your son or daughter to achieve academic success.
- Academic Advising Today: Helping Students With Asperger's Syndrome Navigate the College Experience
- Dixon Life Coaching: School and College Selection Criteria Checklist for Students with Asperger's Syndrome (AS)
- Asperger Center for Education and Training: College Experience for Students with Asperger Syndrome
Amy Sterling Casil is an award-winning writer with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chapman University in Orange, Calif. She is a professional author and college writing teacher, and has published 20 nonfiction books for schools and libraries.