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This resource provides a practical guide to help people with disabilities who want to pursue their education goals at a community college, career institute, four-year college, university, or graduate school. This resource highlights important information for students.
Most colleges and universities provide services and/or accommodations for students with disabilities, as mandated by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). However, some are more comprehensive than others. When considering a two- or four-year college, it is important for you to self-advocate for needs and live as independently as possible
Before making your decision, consider using the following checklist to guide you and your family through important questions:
Q: How can I locate and use the Office of Disabilities?
A: Start by calling the school’s main number and asking for the direct phone number to their Office of Disabilities.
Q: Do I have to inform a 2- or 4-year college that I have a disability?
A: In order to receive accommodations, yes, you must work with the school’s Office of Disabilities. If the school is a private school, it is not required to have such an office.
Q: How will I know what accommodations I need?
A: When selecting a program or major, review the required courses and coursework for possible accommodations. The Office of Disabilities will be able to help you consider required assignments and accommodations for your disability.
Q: What adjustments must a 2- or 4-year college provide?
A: If attending a public college/university, the instructors must abide by a “Notification of Accommodations” letter received from their Office of Disabilities.
Q: Does my IEP go with me to college?
A: You can share your IEP with the Office of Disabilities, but it is no longer an active document. Your IEP is not valid anywhere once you graduate from high school.
Q: Will I need assistive technology?
A: When you meet with the Office of Disabilities, they will help you work through questions related to assistive technology.
Q: Who is there to help me?
A: Colleges are all equipped differently. Some will have translators, transportation, and assistive technology supports. Before you select a college, be sure you are aware of what services the college has in place.
If you are having trouble with school due to mental health, your school is obligated to provide extra supports and services to help you succeed. These supports and services are called accommodations and they can make a difference! Your school may also make some modifications to the courses at your request. This resource provides tips and suggestions on how to request accommodations while in college if you are having trouble due to challenges from a mental health condition.
Souma, A., Rockerson, N., Burgstahler, S. (2009). DO-IT. Academic Accommodations for Students with Psychiatric Disabilities . Retrieved January 28, 2011, from http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/ Academics/psych.html.
Virginia Commonwealth University. (2009). Going to College. Getting Accommodations. Retrieved January 28, 2011, from http://www.going-to-college.org/campuslife/accommodations.html.
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2004). Your Education Your Future. Academic Accommodations. Retrieved January 28, 2011, from http://www.cmha.ca/youreducation/accomodations.html.
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. (n.d.). What Accommodations Support School Performance? Retrieved January 28, 2011, from http://www.bu.edu/cpr/reasaccom/educa-accom.html.
Attending college is an exciting time but can also come with some challenges. If you needed academic support in high school, your parents or teachers may have initiated it. However, in college, if you need academic support, you are responsible for seeking this out yourself. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) states that colleges and universities are responsible for providing necessary accommodations when a student discloses a disability. While each college is different, here are the general steps you will need to take to get accommodations in college.
Find the college office that provides accommodations to students. This office may go by many names, such as Disability Services. If you are unsure how to find this office, reach out to the main directory or student support services to find the appropriate office.
Contact the person in charge of this office to register as a student with a disability and find out what type of documentation is required for your disability. This may be a note from a doctor or a report documenting your disability.
Meet with the person in charge of accommodations and provide him or her with current documentation of your disability. You will be asked about your accommodation needs. Discuss what accommodations have worked in the past and what you think will help you be successful in college.
The person in charge of accommodations will review your documentation and determine if you are eligible for services.
If this person determines that you are eligible for accommodations, he or she will decide what accommodations you will receive. A letter approving these accommodations will be created. This letter will not include your specific diagnosis but will simple state that you have a disability and what accommodations you are eligible to receive.
Depending on the college, either you or the office staff will provide this letter to your professors. If you are required to do so, submit the letter to your professors as soon as possible and plan to discuss with them how to receive your accommodations. You can give this letter to your professors at any point in the semester; however, it is recommended that you submit it at the start of the semester to make sure you start off on the right track.
Your professors are then responsible for providing the accommodations.
You should monitor how the accommodations work for you and reach out to the person in charge of accommodations if you feel like you need additional support.
When deciding if you are ready for college, there are several questions you should ask yourself to help you decide.If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, you may be ready. If you answer “no” to most, you may need to take some time to decide if college is right for you, or if you need more time to get ready.
Are you interested and excited to start looking at and applying to colleges?
Did you enjoy high school and learning new information, even if it was not always interesting to you?
Do you know what type of job you will want to get after college?
Did you do well academically in high school?
Did you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy high school day?
Do you know what you would like to study in college?
Do you know how to self-advocate and ask for help if you need it?
Are you good with time management?
Do you feel like you can handle stress in healthy ways?
Do you understand the costs of college, such as tuition, room and board, books, and food?
Are you good at making friends?
Do you have a good support system at home if you need it?
Do you know where to find supports at college if you need them?
Did you enjoy the social side of high school?
Can you stay organized and on track with your school work?
Do you feel like you are independent and can handle life as a college student, such as living in a dorm, doing laundry, eating healthy, and staying active?
High school students on the spectrum are accustomed to the natural supports they receive from their family, their school and their community. Relatives, friends and community members often offer accommodations and support without even realizing it. In addition, federal law such as IDEIA (Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act) mandates a free and appropriate public education for every child with a disability, and every student with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) receives individual support services. But these supports disappear when students with ASD enter college and encounter new academic and daily living challenges.
paying bills, doing laundry, studying – even getting out of bed for class in the morning –can be especially challenging for students with asd. however, they can thrive in community and four-year colleges if they have the right support. a comprehensive network that includes academic and life skills coaching will help students experience college living, broaden their social skills and achieve academic success. more importantly, students with a strong network develop the skills to accept responsibility so they can transition to independent adulthood. this is a critical goal for both the students and their parents.parents and students should have frank discussions with high school and college personnel to determine the level of support the student will require in college. typically, members of a strong support system may include a resident advisor, a mentor, a tutor, a staff psychologist, an academic liaison and others who are on-site and available when needed.
learn to live independently
The daily lives of many young people with asd are typically organized by their parents. but once they leave home, students with asd can be overwhelmed by the choices that they must make every day. college students need to master the skills required to make good choices and plan their day themselves. a college campus offers some easy decisions, such as access to places students gather to eat, study or socialize. options also exist off-campus. for example, some students may live in an apartment where they have a resident advisor. students learn to handle tasks of everyday living such as grocery shopping, preparing meals, doing laundry, paying bills and maintaining their apartments. While the students are ultimately responsible for managing these tasks, many parents and students find comfort knowing that support and guidance are always nearby. some prospective college students and their parents consider attendance at a community college first as this can be an easier transition and provide an opportunity to assess skills and comfort level with living away from home. always remember, each case, and every individual, is different. parents know their child better then anyone and young adults know what they want and what they are comfortable with; have open and honest discussions to find the option that works best for you.
Students with asd will often benefit from extra help with academics. daily one-on-one tutoring sessions and supervised study halls can ensure academic progress. fellow students often provide natural support by serving as tutors for their peers, but it is recommended that students on the spectrum have access to tutors who are experienced professional educators with a command of the subject at hand. in addition, attendance at regular, structured study halls helps ensure students are spending their time learning. ongoing review sessions help make sure students remain on task, capture good notes, understand the assignments and are prepared for the next class. this academic support frequently enhances students’ success.
Social interaction and social skills development are no less important than academic pursuit. parents often worry whether their child will have friends at school. they want to know their child is participating in supervised group outings and typical college student activities such as going to the movies or going bowling. Under the direction of a mentor, these kinds of structured experiences help students gain confidence in social settings. a dedicated social skills development program offers activities that are educational, empowering and enjoyable.developing strong social skills – and the ability to use them – also means the student has regular interaction with resident advisors, tutors, mentors and friends. this interaction can help keep students on track with their studies as well as reassure parents that their child has the support he or she needs to develop independence in a nurturing, attentive and safe environment.With the right support in the right environment, students with asd can be successful in college, meet new people, expand their experiences and be better prepared for the opportunities adulthood has to offer.
Many people procrastinate when it comes to school. All of the work can be difficult to keep up with. The academic demands of college are often heavier than in high school, and procrastinating can lead to serious academic problems. Here are several tips and tricks to help you learn to reduce procrastinating and be successful in college.
Procrastinating is a habit, and it likely took years to learn. Therefore, you can’t expect to fix it overnight. But with time and dedication, you can learn new ways of doing things.
Keep track of the amount of time it takes you to complete tasks. For example, if you only gave yourself 2 hours to study for your first science test and got a C, then studied 5 hours for your next exam and got an A, you can use this information to plan and schedule study time for future exams.
Make it a habit to check your organizer daily and review both weekly and daily tasks. Make sure you are constantly keeping things up to-date and adding new assignments that come up. You may need to change your timeline and milestones for assignments if new tasks get added.
Be sure to add in breaks and personal activities, as these may affect your timeline of getting things done. It’s okay to set aside time for yourself and time to have fun and enjoy college.
Disorganization is often a major part of procrastinating. If you feel overwhelmed, you may be more likely to procrastinate. Get a calendar, organizer, scheduler, or appointment book to keep track of your tasks. You can also use apps on your phone or tablet or your computer to help with organization. Remember, these tools can be great to have, but you need to actively use them for it to work!
Each task can be broken down into smaller parts. Breaking things down makes them easier to tackle. Each part should be given a milestone, or a date it should be completed. For example, writing a major paper can be broken down into smaller parts such as:
Each of these parts should be assigned a realistic due date for completion and this should be in your organizer.
It’s important to remember that you’re not going to be successful every time, especially when you first start. A few setbacks does not mean you are a failure. Keep at it and eventually new habits will form.
|Difference between high school and college||This information sheet highlights some of the differences students experience between high school and college||Download file: Difference between high school and college|
|Getting accomodations at college||If you are having trouble with school due to mental health, your school is obligated to provide extra supports and services to help you succeed. These supports and services are called accommodations and they can make a difference! Your school may also make some modifications to the courses at your request.||Download file: Getting accomodations at college|
|Getting accomodations at college||Attending college is an exciting time but can also come with some challenges. If you needed academic support in high school, your parents or teachers may have initiated it. However, in college, if you need academic support, you are responsible for seeking this out yourself. The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) states that colleges and universities are responsible for providing necessary accommodations when a student discloses a disability. While each college is different, here are the general steps you will need to take to get accommodations in college.||Download file: Getting accomodations at college|
|How do I know if I'm ready for college?||When deciding if you are ready for college, there are several questions you should ask yourself to help you decide.If you answer "yes" to most of these questions, you may be ready. If you answer "no" to most, you may need to take some time to decide if college is right for you, or if you need more time to get ready.||Download file: How do I know if I'm ready for college?|
|Preparing for College Living||High school students on the spectrum are accustomed to the natural supports they receive from their family, their school and their community. Relatives, friends and community members often offer accommodations and support without even realizing it. In addition, federal law such as IDEIA (Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act) mandates a free and appropriate public education for every child with a disability, and every student with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) receives individual support services. But these supports disappear when students with ASD enter college and encounter new academic and daily living challenges.||Download file: Preparing for College Living|
|Procrastination in College||Many people procrastinate when it comes to school. All of the work can be difficult to keep up with. The academic demands of college are often heavier than in high school, and procrastinating can lead to serious academic problems. Here are several tips and tricks to help you learn to reduce procrastinating and be successful in college.||Download file: Procrastination in College|
This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.