Post High-School Education for Teens on the Autism Spectrum

"My 18 year old [with high functioning autism] will soon be graduating from high school in a few months. What are the best options for post high school education?"

The future is looking brighter than ever for young people with Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). As most parents know, kids and teens on the spectrum are usually very intelligent, but suffer from a lack of social skills, communication abilities, and sensory issues. The recent surge of information, education, and treatment options are starting at younger ages, increasing the chances - and the choices - for post high school education.

There are several secondary education options to investigate for your AS youngster:
  • Technical or vocational schools: These schools offer career training in a relatively short amount of time, with the added benefit of being close to home. If your youngster is thinking of a career in computer repair, air conditioning and heating repair, general office duties, or computer technology, a vocational school is worth a look. Check your local schools for the programs available in your area. Many of these schools offer federal financial aid, as well as state or local aid.
  • Community college: If your AS teenager is interested in earning an Associates degree, the local community college may be the solution. These schools are close to home, yet offer the ‘real’ college experience. For young people who are uncomfortable with the thought of going away to college, this alternative can give them that big school experience at a more manageable volume.
  • Specialty schools: Single concentration schools are popping up everywhere. These schools cater to one certain specialty. For the young person with AS or HFA, special interests can mean sure success when it comes to choosing a career path. Some examples of specialty careers are culinary arts, cosmetology, graphic arts, fashion design, and animation.
  • Colleges and Universities: It is no longer unusual to find young people with AS and HFA going away to a college or university in search of a higher-level degree. These schools are starting to make necessary accommodations for students on the spectrum, offering more assistance on campus.

Young people with AS and HFA are demonstrating their capabilities by adapting to college life quite well, as long as the preparation has been in place during high school. Possibilities for financing their education are numerous with federal and state financial aid and scholarships.

Preparing your youngster early by working on social skills, organizational skills, and living skills will ensure a successful adjustment from high school and home life to the college experience. Finding the right post high school opportunity is not only possible -- it is promising.

As one parent stated:

"The GOOD NEWS is that many colleges and universities are offering more support to autistic students than elementary, middle and high schools. A professor at Georgia Tech has been telling me about the ASD supports at Tech -- phenomenal! Faculty and staff are on board, you don't have to fight the system, they recognize the differences in learning style and accommodate as a matter of policy. It gets better! Also, consider the Job corps. They have arrangements for living while training your child hands-on with a variety of trades. They specialize in training kids that need that extra help."
 

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