Best Colleges For Adults With Autism
Finding a college to meet educational, financial, and social needs can be particularly challenging for people with autism. Although their IQs are often above average, they have more factors to consider when it comes to finding the right fit. In this post, we have compiled a list of the best colleges for students with autism, along with some other tips on finding autism friendly colleges.
Best Schools For Children With Autism
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Top College Programs For Students With Autism
As the number of students with autism continues to grow across the country in 2022, and awareness and understanding of the disorder grow with it, an increasing number of colleges and universities offer autism programs on their campuses. Many of the programs provide academic and social support, and emphasize work-readiness for life after college.
Here is a list of top college programs designed specifically for students with autism:
- Western Kentucky University: The Kelly Autism Program at Western Kentucky University offers educational support to students on the spectrum via individual education planning, classroom accommodations, tutoring, participation in community activities, social and leisure activities, job coaching, and parent support.
- Kent State University: Kent State offers multiple autism initiatives, including a college success program for students with autism and Partnering for Achievement and Learning Success . The initiatives provide support and resources to help students become successful on campus. It also works to spread autism awareness and understanding.
The above list is a representation of colleges and universities that offer programs specifically for students on the autism spectrum. In 2022, there are many opportunities for college students with autism to get the individualized support services they need to be academically and socially successful in college.
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Colleges For Autistic Students
More than half of young adults with ASD do not go to college after high school. And while 35 percent will attempt to attend college later, most do not get admitted or they do but then drop out. Though many colleges and universities provide an array of services to students with learning or physical disabilities, those with ASD have needs that extend beyond the classroom, and their success in classroom is directly implicated in those needs.
But it is not dire. There are many schools across the nation that have recognized those needs and have put programs in place to secure the academic and social experience of their students with ASD. These programs go way above and beyond the services typically offered by a Disability Resource Center.
For example, in addition to providing academic advising many of the schools below provide guidance and counseling on life skills, including hygiene awareness, dorm decorum, communication techniques with peers and faculty, and more. Similarly, many of the best schools for students with ASD offer vital transition programs. Because high school is so different than collegethe latter being marked by independence and self-sufficiencymany students have a hard time with the adjustment. The transition program is an effective way schools help students have a smooth passage into college life.
If you’re interested in colleges that cater to students with disabilities, please check out our ranking of the Best Disability Friendly Colleges and Universities.
Programs For Adults With Autism
When adults with autism are given the tools and resources they need to thrive, they can become the best version of themselves. At the Adult Autism Center, we provide support to adults with autism so that they can work, learn, play, and live in their communities. Since each individual is unique in terms of their interests, skills, and goals, we offer a wide range of programs, all of which encourage a more independent, higher quality life.
Our Center is designed for adults with developmental disabilities, specifically those who have complex needs. Our programs offer person-centered learning that encourages independent living skills, vocational training, supported employment, and community integration.
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College / University Partners
Increasing the knowledge and skills of families and professionals serving individuals with ASD requires a comprehensive approach to training and development. Preservice and inservice coursework offered through institutes of higher education for college credit is a vital component of professional development. Given the enhanced focus on ensuring the use of evidence based practice with individuals with ASD, coursework, certificate programs, and degree programs are required to enable service providers to engage in lifelong learning.
VCU-ACE collaborates with a number of institutes of higher education to develop a comprehensive program in professional development. Collaboration is essential with this endeavor to ensure coursework meets the needs of all stakeholders serving this group and is accessible to anyone, regardless of physical location. Two consortia have been created to address professional development needs related to service delivery for individuals with ASD.
College Programs For Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Five Expert Tips For College Success
Dr. Crystal I. Lee, licensed psychologistDr. Darren Sush, clinical psychologist
Students with autism spectrum disorder can use proven strategies to succeed in college. See these five expert tips for success:
Executive functioning skills include time management, organization, self-starting, and problem-solving. According to Dr. Lee, students with ASD who focus on developing these skills during high school can set themselves up for success in college.
“You need strong executive functioning skills in all aspects of college academic life,” says Dr. Lee. “Practice managing your own schedule. Initiate your work and monitor your progress.”
Even with the best-laid plans, setbacks happen. When students with ASD have a plan of action to handle setbacks, they can rebound quicker. Students may want to find a mentor who can help. “When students struggle, reaching out to a trusted person is the most important thing they can do,” says Dr. Lee. “They should never feel ashamed. The real shame would be struggling so much that they need to withdraw from college.”
Pathfinders for Autism is an organization that offers free programs and services to individuals with autism and their loved ones. According to this organization, students fare best when they understand the special education services they can access.
Dr. Sush says, “Some individuals diagnosed with autism require frequent repetition and practice before consistently and accurately performing a task without assistance.”
State Autism Professional Development Consortium
One training initiative is the enhancement of coursework and programs in autism spectrum disorder and evidence-based practice that can be taken for credit at universities and colleges throughout the Commonwealth. The SAPDC is a group consisting of VCU-ACE, VDOE, and representatives from higher education. Below is a list of colleges and universities and the representative comprising the SAPDC.
There is currently no educational licensure in autism in Virginia. Both coursework and comprehensive certificate programs in ASD are now offered at a number of colleges and universities throughout the state. The SAPDC has collected information on the existing programs and has identified gaps that exist as it relates to:
- Appropriate coursework for all stakeholders including special education teachers, general education teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, psychologists, related service personnel, social workers, and parents.
- Coursework that is accessible and convenient for anyone in the state.
- Awareness of programs and tuition assistance.
We maintain a list and description of the current programs in Virginia.
The partners in the SAPDC include:
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University Of West Florida
Located on a natural preserve in beautiful Pensacola, University of West Florida is a mid-sized member of the public State University System of Florida. Through the Argos for Autism program, students on the Autism Spectrum receive one-on-one social, academic, and career support. Students with autism may also move onto campus early, an opportunity which includes two days of assistance in learning how to live on ones own.
University Of North Florida
The Transition to Healthiness, Resourcefulness, Independence, Vocation, and Education program at University of North Florida has been running since 2012. It began as a collaboration between the colleges Disability Resource Center and its College of Education and Human Services. Through focusing on three primary areas, social skills, independence skills and career development skills, THRIVE is able to ensure that students with autism are able to get the support that they need. No one students experience of THRIVE is the same, as the program tailors its levels of support to each individual. There is no extra cost for a student to participate in THRIVE. College Autism Spectrum, College Autism Network and Think College all recommend University of North Florida.
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Wesleyan University In Kentucky
Ky.s Bowling Green
Wesleyan University in Kentucky , a large public university in the city of Bowling Green, has been nationally recognized for the support systems it has in place for its students on the Autism Spectrum. For example, WKU is home to the Kelly Autism Program. This comprehensive program offers students with autism:
- certain social events
- academic planning one-on-one, and more
Each autistic student participating in the program is paired with a mentor who assists them in navigating campus social situations and generally adjusting to life on a college campus.
The University Of Utah
the University of Utah is a large public university well known for its various research programs. Indeed, when it comes to research, the University of Utah is classified as R2: Doctoral Universities High research activity. Some of this research has to do with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The research is conducted via the highly respected Autism Support Services in Education, Research, and Training Program, better known as ASSERT. the University of Utah students who are themselves affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders will find support via the Disability Resource Center. Examples of support and resources include:
- housing facilities
- assistance with self-expression and advocacy
- among other things, general support with life skills and organization
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Top Iowa Schools In Education/teaching Of Individuals With Autism
Morningside College is one of the finest schools in the United States for getting a degree in education/teaching of individuals with autism. Located in the city of Sioux City, Morningside is a private not-for-profit college with a small student population.More information about a degree in education/teaching of individuals with autism from Morningside College
College Of Fairleigh Dickinson
New Jersey cities Madison and Florham Park
High-functioning students on the Autism Spectrum, and who attend the main Florham campus at College of Fairleigh Dickinson, may apply to be a part of the universitys COMPASS program. The program accepts a maximum of six students each incoming class, ensuring an intimate and individualized network of support. For the first two years students will get support in the form of :
- weekly rounds of group therapy
- weekly individual counseling for one hour
- two hours each week of direct academic assistance
The cost of the COMPASS program is $7,072 per academic year as of September 2019.
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Best Colleges For Students On The Autism Spectrum
It is estimated that 10-14% of current college students have Autism Spectrum Disorder. In numbers, thats 1.8 million to 2.6 million college students on the Autism Spectrum, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And with current numbers from the Center for Disease Control suggesting that 1 in every 59 children are now diagnosed with autism, those numbers are set to increase in the very near future. Thats why its more important than ever for colleges and universities across the country to adapt, and to provide students on the Autism Spectrum with the support, facilities, and perhaps most importantly, the opportunities needed to succeed.
Of course, many American colleges and universities are already doing just that, and below weve profiled the 30 best colleges for students on the Autism Spectrum. To determine our ranking, we considered a variety of factors, including:
Because every student with autism requires something different from their eventual college and that colleges support systems, our list is organized by alphabetical order.
What Is Full Spectrum Learning
The Full Spectrum Learning program, based in the Eriksson College of Education, helps students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder earn a college degree, transition into the workforce and lead a successful life. The program is tailored to the needs of these individuals, offering class cohorts with other participants, peer and faculty mentors, tutors, study hours and support meeting with FSL staff.
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Vocational Training Institutions And Other Programs
Michigan Career and Technical Institute * Plainwell, Michigan
The Michigan Career and Technical Institute is a residential vocational program that provides training in thirteen separate trades for a variety of students with disabilities. In addition to training students for specific trades, the institute offers on-site counseling and occupational therapy as well as career placement services through the Career Readiness Center.
Additional fee: No set tuition.
Scholarship assistance available: No.
All students attending have learning disabilities.
Diagnostic information required: Not specified.
Mental health counseling: Yes.
University Of Grand Valley
Located near the city of Grand Rapids, University of Grand Valley is a public liberal arts university and one of the best colleges for students on the Autism Spectrum. One reason for this designation is the universitys Autism Education Center, home to the state-funded Statewide Autism Resources and Training Project. Better known as START, this program collaborates with various networks and researchers. They bring support and resources to students and others in the local community with Autism Spectrum Disorders. For students at University of Grand Valley, this means access to peer mentors and a buddy program, and assistance with communication and self-advocacy, among other things.
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University Of Tennessee Chattanooga
Mosaic, University of Tennessee, Chattanoogas 11 year old autism support program has a different primary component for every year of study. First year students learn about independence as well as social and study strategies. Second year students work on developing their identities, strengths and self-perceptions. Third year students focus on turning their skills and strengths into careers. And fourth year students learn to develop workplace skills. This program costs $3,500 per semester. Autism Speaks, College Autism Spectrum, Collegexpress, College Autism Network and Savingforcollege all recommend University of Tennessee, Chattanooga for students with autism.
Get Ready For College With Adult Autism Center
Our Academics Program encourages lifelong learning, focusing on each clients interests and goals. The skills developed and milestones achieved within this program continue to benefit clients for years to come. Whether you or a loved one with autism has questions or concerns about the college application process or youre having difficulties with the curriculum or social settings, we can help. When adults with autism are given the tools and resources they need to thrive, they can become the best version of themselves. At the Adult Autism Center, we provide support to adults with autism so that they can work, learn, play, and live in their communities. Contact us today to learn more!
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The Program For The Education And Enrichment Of Relational Skills
PEERS for Young Adults is the only evidence-based social skills training for individuals over the age of 18 years old. It includes 16 group sessions covering topics such as communication, humor, dating, disagreements, and bullying. Each session is accompanied by home practice assignments designed to reinforce the groups understanding of the skills learned during each meeting. For more information about this program please email
Individuals with autism often have an average or above-average IQ. However, challenges in school can create learning difficulties. The goal of the Academics Program is to encourage lifelong learning, focusing on each client’s interests and goals. The skills developed and milestones achieved within this program continue to benefit clients for years to come.Learn more about the Academics Program
Learning the value of a healthy, balanced lifestyle is critical especially among those living with autism. Unfortunately, obesity is common among adults with autism, which is why a fun, interactive Fitness Education Program is so beneficial. This program keeps on giving, supporting the physical and mental health of those who take part.
Arts & Crafts Studio
Social & Leisure Skills
Medical, Dental & Hair Salon
Are You Ready To Find Your Fit
Students with autism spectrum disorder have a complex developmental condition that often involves social interaction challenges. These students may experience problems with communication and restricted or repetitive behaviors. Symptoms and severity can vary widely.
College can present difficulties for students with autism. Learners’ limited interpersonal communication skills and courses’ complex demands can lead to frustration. Only a few dozen colleges offer programs specifically for students with autism. Many of these programs cost an additional fee on top of tuition.
Students with autism spectrum disorder can use this page to explore college options. This guide covers college transition planning and how to find the right college.
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Online College Programs For Autistic Students
For many reasons, an on-campus college program may not be the best fit for you or your child with autism. For students with autism who would like to pursue a college degree but would feel more successful doing so from home, there are many online college programs that also support autistic students. Sometimes, the overall cost of on-campus programs make living on campus unfeasible. For some people with severe autism, living on campus may not be a practical option.
There are trade-offs to consider when selecting an online program over an on-campus one. On-campus programs are able to provide services to students that cannot always be delivered online. Most on-campus autism programs offer specific services, such as:
- One-on-one academic support and coaching.
- Planned social events.
- Career guidance.