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Self Advocacy and College Students with ASD

KATC Newsletter Summer 2012 Discusses the importance of learning self advocacy skills to access disability services in college

Self Advocacy and College Students with ASD

Students with disabilities are expected to advocate for themselves in college

by Diandre Glover Thomas


High school students with autism have parents, teachers, counselors and other administrators who advocate for them in school.  However, when these students graduate and attend college they are expected to advocate for themselves.  It is essential for a student with autism spectrum disorder attending college to learn about their disability and be capable of communicating their needs to college disability resource centers when planning accommodations.


In college it is the student’s responsibility to self identify as having a disability.  In addition, the student is expected to contact the disability resource center to submit written documentation of their disability and meet with the disability service coordinator to arrange accommodations.  Accommodations help college students with autism overcome obstacles that may create barriers that could prevent them from accessing the same educational opportunities as their peers.  The prospective college student with autism needs to learn how to explain the need for accommodations to prevent specific barriers.  For example, if a student needs extended time to take tests or a distraction free environment they need to be able to explain why they need those accommodations.


Although, the high school Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.) cannot be used to document a disability in college.  It can be helpful for a student to become familiar with interventions that were used in high school to be able to explain the need for similar accommodations in college.  High school students can learn about their disability from dialogue with teachers and parents.  In addition, students can learn self advocacy skills through participating in IEP team meetings to discuss the student’s postsecondary goals.  Learning to become a self advocate is important for all students; however, it is essential to the overall success of college students with autism.


To learn more about accommodations in college view the archived webinar presentation Accessing Disability Services at Public Postsecondary Institutions in Kentucky. Also, download a copy of the Kentucky Public College Disability Resource Center database and College and Autism brochure.  In addition, more information about supporting college students with autism can be found on the KY Autism Training Center web site.

Diandre Glover Thomas is the Program Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center and a graduate student in the Higher Education Administration program at the University of Louisville.


Kentucky Autism Training Center Summer 2012 Newsletter (August 2012)

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