Can Asperger's Teens Make It In College?


My son was just diagnosed with aspergers syndrome and i am heartbroken. Will he ever be able to go to college or even make it through HS? He is 13 years old and can’t make friends and has a tough time in school.


Improving social skills can be an important part of any child's repertoire. Asperger's (high functioning autism), like classic autism, falls on a continuum of symptoms and impairment. Usually, it constitutes an exclusive focus on one area of interest, or one topic, particularly of a non-social nature. The ability to empathize with others and their circumstances could be one area in which social skills get compromised.

Social skills can be improved, and an awareness of social signifiers may make a big difference in your son's experience at college. Sometimes called interpersonal training, the approach consists of two dimensions.

First, a individual is taught to understand communicative cues, and how to send and receive them in a contextually appropriate manner. These cues include smiling, eye contact, nodding to register comprehension, posture, and learning to ask open-ended questions. In addition, learning to disclose opinions, experiences, and feelings in a reciprocal manner with others can immensely improve social skills and social standing.

The second dimension to learning interpersonal skills is gaining emotional insight: managing anxiety, self-criticism, depression, anger, and avoidance in social circumstances.

The first dimension gets most of the attention, but the second dimension is most important. That's because we might learn a "skill," but feel too much anxiety, depression, or critical self-consciousness to implement it.

Remember that the average male teenager may have a lot of social-skill deficits that usually get worked on because of his desire to get along with females. Females develop social skills earlier, on average, and males catch up to become viable companions and boyfriend material. However, the emotional glitches I mentioned above, including anxiety, self-criticism, shame, and depression might be the more important issues to tackle.

By developing emotional muscles, which consists of displaying creative optimism, self-acceptance, and an acceptance of others with whom we disagree, your son can learn some specific social skills. Saying "hi" and smiling to one new person a day will provide immense feedback, as will the task of deepening relationships with real self-disclosure (including taking some appropriate risks) and confidently being himself.

Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management


•    Anonymous said… Asperger's, although a struggle, can also be a blessing. Once my son was diagnosed, we finally had our answers which explained his behaviors. It then put us on the right track to help him. He is now 18, graduated from high school, and working full time. The best thing you can do is educate yourself.
•    Anonymous said… Aspies are some of the most successful people..
•    Anonymous said… Bill Gates is known to be an Aspie...
•    Anonymous said… Don't give up hope but also realize there's more to life then going to college. There are training schools.. oh could set out to be a business owner and operator.. my aspie just turned 18 and is a junior,she has plans to become a manicurist.
•    Anonymous said… Hang in there! Remember Aspies have a lot of strengths too. Foster those strengths and teach skills to make up for what does not come naturally. This disorder is not a curse. My 14 year old also had huge problems making and keeping friends. This is the first year that he has found the right circle of friends and it has made the world of difference. College/University will definitely be difficult for him, but with the right supports in place, I'm confident he'll do just fine.
•    Anonymous said… He will be fine. He is just a loner in his own world. My teen is 16 and wants to do everything. This is a strange diagnosis to understand but read and educate yourself. It will help. Each child is different. My son would be an excellent computer geek. Hopefully, it will be a good career.
•    Anonymous said… How did she go 13 years with no clue?? I can't go an hour without knowing my aspie son is up to something, let alone the behaviors and obvious signs.
•    Anonymous said… I have a friend that is sr it manager for a nationwide company with aspergers. My son has aspergers and is 12 and i know he will be fine
•    Anonymous said… I mentor students with asperger's in university, my students are all doing really well, so don't worry, with the right support your son could do anything xx
•    Anonymous said… I think it may be of help to know what state people are expressing concerns in so perhaps local support can be offered and added. Especially with getting help.
•    Anonymous said… It's very common for Aspergers to be diagnosed later. My son was diagnosed at 11. At no point did the post say she had no clue- but sometimes the diagnosis takes time - each Aspergers diagnosis is different - what appears in your child may be different for the next. Support and compassion is what each of us Aspie parents need. No judgement necessary.
•    Anonymous said… many of the worlds best have aspergers. have faith
•    Anonymous said… My 15 y.o has always had trouble forming & keeping friendships. It's still somewhat of an issue but the issue lies with me, not him. For the most part I feel he has people he hangs with & feels comfortable with, I'm just not sure how reciprocal those friendships are. In his eyes though, they are his people. I do believe he will fare better in an adult world though as he is so much more adept at adult conversations. I know in my heart he will be fine, there are times when I think he feels on the outer but to him it is just the norm. He has many connections daily with people & never misses an opportunity to hang out with friends after school. These are important for building his social skills. Don't be heartbroken, there are many positives, you just have to navigate the hard times (& there are plenty but you just go on, for your child, cos they need you!) Look to the future & just be his support network during the teen years.
•    Anonymous said… My aspie son is 17 and in his last year of high school smile emoticon
•    Anonymous said… My husband and his twin brother, age 45, were not diagnosed until they were in their 30s, so they never got help as children or teens. Both now married with kids, did great in college, and have executive level jobs for good companies. So yes, they can definitely succeed. I think a lot of it had to do with my in laws teaching them the mindset that failure is not an option.
•    Anonymous said… My son has Aspergers & is also 13. I have all the hope that he will go to college & be successful!
•    Anonymous said… My son is 10 and we think he has aspergers.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 22, he completed a college course, he makes film's, he passed his driving test first time and he is the best son, would'nt change him for the world x
•    Anonymous said… My son struggled through high school and is doing great in college. 13 is tough enough without having Aspergers on top of things for sure - keep working with him socially and find out what programs the high school offers. My son was on an IEP, which is good and bad. You have to stay on top of the teachers to get them to stick with the IEP. Some teachers are amazing and others not so much. Wishing you and your son all the best.
•    Anonymous said… My son was diagnosed last year at13 and what a difference a year makes!! All the help he now has, has made the most incredible difference. 3 1/2 days at school a week and able to socialise a lot more. A long way to go but with the right help and support I know that he has a very bright and rosy future smile emoticon It's not a death sentence just means they are wired different once you get your head round that its a lot easier smile emoticon x
•    Anonymous said… My son was diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD, OCD, early onset bipolar disorder etc he graduated 2nd top of his class in college (computing) went onto uni and finished with a 2.1 in Computer Forensics. You bet it's possible!!
•    Anonymous said… Not only go to college, but probably work at one. Go to any lab on any campus at any university, you'll find at least one person on the spectrum there. Trust me. He'll do just fine. Exploit his strengths. Always trust him to know himself better than anyone. Support but don't push. You got this Mama.
•    Anonymous said… Our story is the same and the proper school was key in his progress.
•    Anonymous said… Please don't be heartbroken. Your child will have amazing ability (most likely, several abilities) that will shine through. He may do things "differently" but his mind will blow you away at times. He may be challenging, but, possibly innovative and strong-willed. Our children are not fighting a deadly disease. It's not a diagnosis for a terminal illness. This means they think differently. We just have to find the puzzle pieces to understand. It can be overwhelming...but the community is very supportive. You are not alone, and neither is he. Our children have so many gifts that are waiting to unfold! It's amazing to me, how talented they are, all in their own ways. Keep being his biggest advocate and help others understand, because, more times than not-they probably will not. But that's okay, sometimes, it takes time.
•    Anonymous said… Some very very intelligent well paid professionals have aspergers. He will be absolutely fabulous!!!
•    Anonymous said… Sometimes you know there is a problem but it takes years for professionals to diagnose the problem.
•    Anonymous said… That's crazy to me how they can delay diagnosis for some parents, leaving them at a loss, and give some parents a quick diagnosis. I didn't judge her🙄 I'm just wondering how 13 years passed with no one batting an eye, that's how the post made it seem.
•    Anonymous said… There are some great support colleges and college programs for aspies. Definitely!
•    Anonymous said… There is hope...Einstein was an Aspie, Susan Boyle too. My child was diagnosed at age 7 with ADD and age 12 with Aspergers (high fumctioning) going to grade 10 next year. Get yourself lots of reading, google, get familiar with it in order to 'understand' your child. Strongs!!!!
•    Anonymous said… With God all things are possible...There is hope...
•    Anonymous said… With or without aspergers you get out of life what you put in. Surround him with love support and give him the confidence to know he's different but that it's not a negative. And there's always more than one way to do something and the world is his.
•    Anonymous said… Yes! My son is 22 and a junior in college. He was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 14. He had difficulty socially from preschool up until he was a junior in high school. By then, he was in a good school that gave him the academic challenge he needed. With maturation, he was able to start working on social skills. He is still a work in progress, but I am so proud of the obstacles he's overcome. You can feel free to PM me.

Post your comment below...

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...