Encouraging Students with Autism to Think College
by Amy Edwards
October 28, 2015
Have you ever spent time looking for information about college programs for students with autism? If so, Think College is a resource that might be of interest to you.
Think College, a program located at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts- Boston, is the national coordinating center for Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSIDs). Think College is dedicated to developing, expanding, and improving inclusive higher education options for people with disabilities. They disseminate resources related to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability (ID), autism, and other disabilities; provide training and technical assistance; and conduct research on emerging practices to support students with disabilities in postsecondary education.
While the resources on the Think College website are mainly geared toward helping students with intellectual disabilities, the TPSIDs also serve students with autism who do not have intellectual disabilities. Check out their FY2014 Annual Report for further information.
Think College has a ton of information on their website, including many resources useful to students who are on the autism spectrum, their families, and those who advise them. One valuable resource highlights the perspectives of students with disabilities on why going to college is important. Other resources include:
You can also find links to other resources such as www.collegeautismspectrum.com which has additional resources and lists of colleges that may provide specific supports to students on the autism spectrum.
The site provides a searchable database of colleges that offer specific supports for students with different types of disabilities. The database lists costs and attributes of each college program it highlights including the types of supports each program offers. While it doesn’t include every college in the U.S., the database is a great starting point for exploring the types of available programs.
Think College Island is an interactive page for middle school students to learn about their disability and start thinking about and planning for college, especially focusing on the self-advocacy component of postsecondary education preparation.
Additionally, the Think College website includes resources for colleges interested in developing programs for students with disabilities, such as a module on Becoming a Comprehensive Transition Program and planning documents to help colleges become more disability-friendly.
If you, a family member, or a student you work with are thinking about next steps after high school, Think College is an excellent place to begin learning about opportunities!
Amy Edwards, Ed. D., leads our projects related to understanding how to help youth enrolled in postsecondary education programs. She is the parent of a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome.