I was recently referred to an article about the prevalence of mental health issues within the autism community. You can find a link to the article here: NPR Article. While I was struck, though not necessarily surprised, at the increased likelihood an individual on the autism spectrum will have a psychiatric diagnosis as compared with typically developing persons, I was also interested in the discussion about the transition from high school to college and beyond for teens on the autism spectrum.
Teens on Autism Spectrum
There are a whole new set of rules and obstacles that everyone learns and faces when entering college. We all are challenged to be more independent in many facets of our life, including navigating a new social space, maintaining basic living skills like cooking for ourselves, and balancing an often daunting workload from classes. As many of us know, this is a challenging transition for anyone to make regardless of a diagnosis they may or may not have. The difficulty of this transition to college is magnified for a teen on the autism spectrum. Learning new social rules requires more practice, and the obstacles faced can feel much larger than they might to a typically developing teen.
One of the quotes from that resonates with what we believe in here at camp is, “Youth on the autism spectrum may need repetitive modeling and experiences so that they get those skills down and become as independent as possible…” Our goal with Beyond Akeela is to give our teens on the autism spectrum as much exposure to these new experiences as we can. This gives them the space to practice these new skills in a safe environment, with the support of adult advisors and also their peers. Something as simple as navigating a relationship with an assigned roommate takes practice and Beyond Akeela, a college prep program for teens on the autism spectrum, gives them the space to practice that skill.
The transition to college for young people with autism is a challenging one, and as an organization we are happy to see articles like this one being written about transitions more often. We are also proud to be an organization that provides a place for teens to prepare for their transition to college in a safe and fun environment.