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EducationStudents receiving special education in high school have access to supports and services including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, mental health counseling, life skills training and vocational training. By law, school staff are required to prepare youth for a job or continued education.

Following high school, about one-third of people on the autism spectrum pursue a 2-year or 4-year college education and others may pursue vocational training.

Special education services stop when high school ends. Compared to high school, there is a much smaller range of supports and services available to youth on the autism spectrum in postsecondary environments, and only if they formally identify themselves as having a disability.

Our Approach

We’re interested in learning more about the educational experiences of people on the autism spectrum and which experiences contribute to positive life outcomes. We look at educational experiences during high school, as well as access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

Our Key Questions

How are people doing with accessing educational options after high school? What are the barriers to accessing college and vocational training?

What additional supports are people able to access during high school and college?

Are there patterns in courses and majors chosen? School completion rates?

Our Key Findings

This is what we’ve found with our research so far:

  • Approximately one in three young adults on the autism spectrum will ever receive education in a college setting. (NAIR, 2015)
  • Over 70% of college students on the autism spectrum enroll in 2-year community colleges. (NAIR, 2015)
  • Nearly one-third of college students on the autism spectrum do not feel they have a disability or a special need. Yet, students must disclose their disability in order to receive accommodations. (Shattuck 2014)
  • Students on the autism spectrum are more likely to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects than other college students. (Wei, 2012)
  • Those who are STEM majors are more likely to persist in a 2-year college and transfer to a 4-year college than their peers in non-STEM majors. (Wei, 2013)