Colleague and friend Andrew Nelson, a coordinator in the West Virginia Autism Training Center’s Family Focus Positive Behavior Support program, supports individuals with ASD in their transition to college as part of his day-to-day duties. In his work, Andrew began to notice similar questions and issues were being raised by various students.
Many of the questions were about basic procedures of higher education, such as how one applies to and gets into a university. Other questions – like “Do I have to do my own laundry?” – were about campus living.
To help answer these questions, Andrew went straight to the experts: college students on the spectrum!
In his video interview with three Marshall University students, Andrew explores in brief the topics of: college admission, financial aid, effective support strategies, independent living, and the importance of building on-campus relationships.
All in under 6 minutes!
Important advice from students who have “been there and done that” include:
- Prepare for college by taking seriously your highs school studies. Work to get “the best grades you can,” and prepare for college entrance exams. Those exams are necessary for four-year colleges and universities.
- Understand that admission to higher education is a process, and that process involves application, meeting admissions standards, submitting transcripts, financial aid, and other paperwork. Become familiar with the process at the school you want to attend.
- Students often have to adapt to the differences that exist between high school and college, especially differences related to educational autonomy and self-direction.
- Simple technology, such as smart phone alarms, visual schedules, and calendars, can help keep students organized.
- If you have a questions, most professors will be accessible and willing to help you.
- Develop social networks, find a way to enjoy hobbies, and enjoy the experience of college rather than focus your energies solely on academics. A balanced life is key.
by Dr. Marc Ellison
Marc Ellison, Ed.D. is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and an approved Licensed Professional supervisor (ALPS) who has worked nearly 30 years to provide person-centered support, services and advocacy to individuals who live with autism spectrum disorders, their families and those who support them. He has supported individuals with ASD throughout their lifespan, as they moved to the community from state-supported institutions, searched for and obtained employment, entered into relationships, and transitioned into college. Dr. Ellison is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center, and a part-time professor at Marshall University.
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