Since December is the traditional time for High School Seniors to begin the college application process, this month’s HealthyRelationship Blog will focus on considerations for parents and educators related to post-secondary education for students with autism and intellectual disabilities.
The Healthy Relationships Curriculum was designed to provide instruction in the areas of hygiene, sexuality, and appropriate relationships with a goal of preparing individuals for independent living. The ability to successfully transition from high school to college is an important step for individuals hoping to move on to employment and self-sufficiency.
Research conducted by the AJ Drexel Autism Institute indicates that approximately 30 percent of students with autism will attend college, but fewer than 20 percent will graduate. The low rate of graduation is attributed to many factors that affect individuals with autism and developmental delays: limited communication skills, social deficits, anxiety, and impaired executive functioning. Many times students are advanced in their ability to comprehend and master academic challenges while struggling with the social and life-skills that are required for college success.
What can parents and educators do to improve the likelihood of post-secondary achievement for these students?
*Start early. Introducing content related to hygiene, social skills, and appropriate peer interaction provides a foundation for an individual to live independently.
*Encourage high school students to work if at all possible. The demands of employment or a regular volunteer commitment will help to prepare them for the rigorous schedule and social demands of college.
*Consider community college .Many community colleges offer student support departments that offer counseling, tutoring, and even transportation to make the college experience attainable.
*Research college options that provide comprehensive support. Thinkcollege.net offers a national listing by state of university and college programs that offer specialized programming for young adults with special education needs.
College success is attainable for individuals with autism and other developmental delays when parents and educators carefully and considerately plan for this achievement. The Healthy Relationships Curriculum is an important resource to consider in the planning process. For more information about the best ways to utilize the HRC Curriculum in a student’s transition plan, contact Rob Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org .