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Your child with autism can go to college

Your child with autism can go to college


Is college an option for my child with autism? Often, the answer is yes, your child with autism can go to college. Whether they are looking at a two-year associate’s program or a four-year bachelor’s program, or even a trade school for vocational training, there are many options. And, they can be successful, though they may need some supports.

Many adults with autism may struggle with managing the soft skills once they go off to college, especially if it is an independent living situation. What are soft skills? Soft skills are those things that can not be measured through standardized testing. These are things such as communication, attitude, critical thinking, interpersonal relationships, teamwork. To break it down further, these soft skills could be cooking, time management, accountability, problem solving, hygiene, household cleanliness, and the list goes on. Transition supports through high school may not be enough for building those independent living life-skills.


Parents and caregivers play an integral role, but they may need assistance with supporting child as well. There is good news! Threre are several colleges with support programs for individuals with a disability such as autism.

When we talk to parents with adults who have gone off to college, they typically have a similar story where their young adult had challenges with these soft skills. Often they had complications to the point where their adult child had to come home because they were not able to be successful and feel safe in that college living situation. Similarly, when young adults go to a local Community College, they may have a hard time advocating for themselves with their professors.  It may be difficult communicating their needs around homework and tests. They may need just a little support in those skill sets to be successful in that environment, even if the young adults are living at home or near their family or support party.


One on one with Sarah Shepard

In discussing college options with CA’s Manager of Adult Programs, Sarah Shepard, she recalled a few. “There are a few that come to mind. George Mason UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University, and Old Dominion University. Additionally, there are some new programs throughout the East Coast that may include inclusive college support programs. There’s also a college for individuals with autism, dyslexia, and other mild learning disabilities called Landmark College. 

CA Human Services offers adult support programs. As a result, with our help, you can help your adult with autism or other developmental disability be successful. We have 3 programs: Readiness, Independent Living, and Community Support. You can view our adult programs on our website or contact us below.

To summarize, yes, your child with autism can go to college. There are many different options out there for young adults to go to college and be successful!

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CA works with autistic people and their families to help them thrive. Every day, we’re building a future where the most vulnerable Virginians can actively participate in our community and realize their full potential.

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