Many colleges and universities require undergraduates to live on campus, especially during their freshman and sophomore years. “Residence life” (calling on-campus living environments “dorms” is considered a faux pas in higher education these days) requires students to live as a member of a small, interactive society. To be an effective and successful member of an on-campus living environment, students are expected to understand and conform to social norms within residence halls. Students are also expected to pull their own weight both socially and in regard to independent living in their dorms.

Brick Building on University Campus

Students diagnosed with ASD are sometimes challenged in independent living skill development.

Many require additional supports to learn these skills, and in recognizing when to use them. Colleges are not prepared to teach these skills to this population. Less than 5% of public, four-year institutions report employing staff dedicated to teaching independent living skills to college students diagnosed with ASD.

A successful residence hall experience requires one to understand and conform to understood norms and few colleges have employees available to teach those skills. It becomes clear that students with ASD must begin learning and mastering necessary skills prior to their transition into college.

To master the skills necessary for a successful residence hall experience, one must know what is expected for dorm living.

Expectations include:

  • Participation in scheduled floor and resident hall activities, including scheduled floor meetings
  • Understand and follow residence hall rules
  • Interact socially with other students on your floor
  • Communicate effectively with roommate(s), including working through conflict
  • Interact with residence hall faculty and staff
  • Utilize academic support resources made available in residence hall settings

by Marc Ellison

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1 Comment

  1. Participating in Resident Hall life is not difficult for most students on the autism spectrum if they have a good roommate who knows what having autism is like and if they are willing to help them with their needs. It is a an easy thing to adjust to living on campus depending on if the roommate is patient and willing enough to help the student cope with living on campus which should be a good thing. It is best to do residency programs for students to live on campus for one week to see if they are willing to cope with living on campus which will save a lot of college programs time and money so that funds are not wasted. If a college student on the autism spectrum wants to go to college, they have to be willing to major in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathmatics) major because more jobs now require college students to graduate in these disciplines.

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