College Readiness for Teens on the Autism Spectrum
Over the last few years, some of the first Akeela campers have made their way to universities around the country. When we talk with parents of these former campers, the one thing we hear most often is that the toughest part of college for their children is not the academic rigors, but rather the nuances of living independently on a college campus. Our campers often receive different types of support around social skills, executive functioning, and different post-secondary life skills before entering college. However, when they move on past high school, more often than not those supports they’ve grown accustom to are not as readily available, and must be sought out.
With the rise in awareness of autism spectrum disorder, we are now seeing a recent trend towards an uptick of these levels of support to students with autism. A recent article from the New York Times Along the Autism Spectrum, a Path Through Campus Life by Jan Hoffman speaks to the journey college students with autism travel through to succeed in college. Programs like the Kelly Autism Program profiled in this article at Western Kentucky University are becoming much more prevalent across the nation. Several of our campers have entered similar programs at different universities and thrived with the additional support the programs provide. These programs vary in the support they provide to students who enroll in them, ranging from providing social opportunities and peer mentors, to academic tutoring and time management support.
As professionals in the autism community, it makes us so happy to see more programs like these develop. Much of the reason we started Beyond Akeela in 2011 was to give our oldest campers the opportunity to continue building skills to help them succeed in their post-secondary lives, all within the support of our camp community. This is also a large part of the reason we decided to hold Beyond Akeela on a college campus going forward. The program helps campers with their college readiness by giving teens practice actually living on a college campus.
For those looking for more information about universities that offer these programs, check out our Parent Resources page.