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Helping ASD Teens to NOT Drop Out of High School

“Hi, I am Shaun. I am 17. I am contacting you in the attempt to try to come up with a plan that will help me cope with high school. I have high functioning aspergers and really need some ideas that will help me stay in school. It has been very tough so far and I have thought about dropping out but don’t want to do that if I don’t have to because I am only 4 months away from graduation. I do have an IEP, but it doesn’t seem to help me much. I get teased a lot and the teachers really don’t seem to understand me. I will look for your answer. Thanks.”

Thanks for your question Shaun. Sounds like you are taking responsibility for your situation. That’s very impressive coming from a 17 year old. You are being your own self-advocate – and that’s good.

Having Asperger’s, or high-functioning autism, often means having special needs. As a young adult, it’s up to you to make sure your rights are being respected and that the accommodations you need are available to you. Whether at school or at work, being an advocate for yourself means understanding your rights, understanding how you work best, and working with others to ensure that your special needs are met.

Here are some ideas for you to consider:
  1. You're almost done with high school! Right? The finish line is straight ahead. Rather than focusing on the next 3 months (which will go by fairly quickly), start thinking past graduation (e.g., What are my special interests? Can I turn any of them into a career? Do I want to go on to further my education? If so, should I go to a university or a technical school?).
  2. Set goals for yourself and think realistically about reaching them. Part of your IEP process probably calls for establishing a transition plan as early as possible (and is required at your first IEP meeting after turning 16), outlining your path to graduation and what you want to do after high school, including training, education and any accommodations you might need after you leave.
  3. Request that the Summary of Performance (a required document the school must provide before you leave high school) include your most up to date documentation related to Asperger’s, as well as specifics about your academic achievement, information about your functional performance, recommendations about accommodations, and why they have helped you successfully complete school.
  4. Meet with your teachers and counselors outside of the IEP meeting to talk about your classes, the accommodations you may have (e.g., extra time on tests, a note-taking buddy, etc.), any other helpful strategies, and what you’re interested in pursuing next.
  5. Learn as much as you can about Asperger’s. The more you know about your specific challenge, the easier it will be for you to figure out how you learn best and the accommodations you will need to be successful.
  6. If you hope to go to college, what subjects do you want to study? To get into the college of your choice, what grades will you need and which classes should you take? What college are you interested in attending? Will that college permit you to substitute requirements or have them waived? Don’t feel like once you decide on something that it’s set in stone—adjusting your goals is an important part of realizing what you want and what it will take to achieve success.
  7. Be aware of what you’re good at, what you struggle with, what activities you have a passion for, and what your ideal job or project would be. Being able to share this kind of information with others is a valuable part of representing yourself.
  8. Attend all your Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. You have a right to be there and should take an active part in the meetings. It’s a great opportunity to talk to your parents, teachers, administrators and others that are involved with your education about how you learn and what kinds of services and supports you need to do well in school. Make sure the specific accommodations you need are outlined in your IEP.

I am proud of you for taking the proper steps to prepare yourself for a successful future. I wish more young people on the autism spectrum were this conscientious.


•    Anonymous said...  I hated high school and never got to finish. Correspondence was just too hard with 2 jobs. I still don't have a diploma or GED and it almost cost me a job. With just 3 months... Do what you can to stay in. You will regret it later...
•    Anonymous said... At the end of the day are you value as a person. That way the teacher cont. to follow the IEP and the doctors push drugs that don't work and find cure.
•    Anonymous said... Homeschooling is a wonderful option for kids with Asperger's. Battling constantly in public school for services, understanding, and ways to cope takes its toll.
•    Anonymous said... I am sorry your experience has been so negative that you are considering dropping out. By law your school is responsible to provide you an individualized and appropriate education. Unsure what your issues are but if you have difficult with social situations your IEP should include interventions to assist you to improve your relationships. Your life will continue to require the ability to interact with others and dropping out will not provide you with the assistance you need. Your teachers and peers may not understand your needs, but that is no excuse to treat you negatively. Three months is plenty of time to turn around your year and start college with an improved outlook. I applaud you for speaking up here and encourage you to schedule an IEP meeting yo address the issues. Good luck to you!
•    Anonymous said... I found a letter on this site that I amended to fit my son and emailed it to his guidance counselor who in turn forwarded it to his teachers before school started this year. It made a huge difference. He went from barely getting by to excelling and liking school. The teachers all thanked me because they knew what worked and what to watch for. Try that now. It helps them know what you need instead of trying to interpret your needs. No matter what do not quit!!!!
•    Anonymous said... I've found that guys tend to rib each other in middle school and high school to determine social ranking (who's alpha and who falls in after that). The higher the ranking the better their ability to process information fast and come back with comments when others "rib (tease each other)." I've also noticed that most high functioning people with Aspergers have a great "rote memory skill." In order to help yourself, I'd start viewing comedic shows that are funny (have comebacks) and memorize them. It will help you socially to counter teasing in a positive light and those males may start to include you for your humor! The only thing to practice is timing and tone so you don't come across as hurt or angered. Good luck and stay in school only have three months left to graduation (start marking off the days on a calendar)! P.S. I enjoyed the article!
•    Anonymous said... My son has Aspergers, is in eighth grade and is already having anxiety about entering high school. He does have an IEP. That letter sounds like it would be good for me to be proactive and send to his teachers next year.
•    Anonymous said... Put your mind to prove them all wrong succeeding is the best revenge!! You can do it!!
•    Anonymous said... the teachers don't have the choice to care or not care, they should be following your IEP plan and adjust it when necessary to help you through your day.
•    Anonymous said... Well done for getting this far, YOU are an inspiration for others, YOU are proving that people with AS can and deserve the education everyone needs,, YOU are amazing and I hope you continue to be amazing. Your IEP has been set up to help YOU, contact your tutor and ask them to address your difficulties, but please, please do not drop out, do not give up, look at it as just another learning curve to help you through. Good luck and keep in contact for when you graduate. Xx
•    Anonymous said... With such little time left get the education you owe it to yourself for getting this far.well done you.
•    Anonymous said... You have done so well to come so far, dont let other peoples ignorance put you off your dreams. Meet with your Year Head if possible and talk about whats grating you. If you want to achieve, you will.xxxx

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