Home > Autism Speaks U > Individuals with Autism in College

Individuals with Autism in College

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. He started the club Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.

A big part of our autism movement is surrounded by the numbers. No matter the organization, a standard that seems to be advertised is in regards to the prevalence of autism in today’s society. It seems like any brochure you open these days will tell you that….

  • 1 in 110 will be diagnosed with autism.
  • 1 in 70 boys will be diagnosed with autism.
  • A new case is diagnosed almost every 15 minutes.

Over the past couple of months I have transitioned to focusing more on the numbers for adults with autism. The problem is we still have a great deal to decode. I have looked through countless websites to try to find a standard but it’s been very challenging. I then decided to just focus on one area which was how many individuals with autism go to college/receive a college degree.

Parents often ask me how someone with autism can prepare for college and how many individuals with autism actually attend college. The number I usually tell them is that 1 in 1040 students was the norm of how many individuals on the autism spectrum attended my alma mater, Seton Hall University (5 autistic individuals out of 5200) because that’s all I know. My hope is that the more we learn about these numbers the more we will be able to assess how much funding should be provided for adult support in the schools. We already have estimates for unemployment (autism spectrum disorder ranges anywhere from 75-98% per diagnosis on the spectrum) adults still living at home (about 80%) or adults who will be on the spectrum in the next decade (estimated around 500,000).

Do you think numbers for “Autism in College” should be addressed more? What are your thoughts on the steps needed to see this become a reality?

This is one of my Autism Speaks U related blog posts. If you would like to contact me directly about questions/comments related to this post I can be reached at kerry.magro@autismspeaks.org or through my Fan Page here.

  1. August 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Most assuredly this should be pursued. Think of the talent that would be (has been) lost. I think it is important for the public to understand this and to understand that young people with autism who are capable and wish to, should be encouraged to attend college.

    I am at a loss to answer your second question. Gathering numbers and statistics is of course important, but hearing from the Autistic Community of those who attend college or have graduated is equally important.

  2. Lynn RS
    August 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Syracuse University recently published a lengthy article about the school’s commitment to students with autism. It was in the alumni magazine. It caught my eye as my child is high functioning autistic. While I am in the trenches of looking toward high school next year, I continue to want information and a view into the next phase of my child’s life. I am astounded by these numbers in your blog but in reality, just a few years ago, there would have been no numbers.It appears that Seton Hall, Syracuse University and others are realizing the commitment of all students to a college education. Syracuse was able to link me to full listing of colleges with accommodations for students with autism. I cannot attach it to this communication but their disability office will help you with the details. I can tell you that reading blogs like this one and reading articles in an alumni magazine make me believe that my child someday will be able to consider going to college. Keep fighting to open that door for so many others. With the numbers so high for males going to college, and a nod to females making tremendous growth in this area, if autism affects 1 in 70 males, aren’t
    schools going to have to modify their vision and mission in order to continue as a business?
    When the universal data is 1 in 110 children afflicted with autism….and I gather that means below 18 years of age…..how many universities will survive if they discount such a large population of possible applicants.

  3. Adam Vogel
    August 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    There should be some research done for people with autism who are going to college. I believe Autism Speaks and people like you and me need to get involved in the research.

    Since I graduated with an accounting degree from UW-Whitewater, I should be helping you do the research on adults with autism who graduated from college, such as myself. When I graduated from UW-Whitewater I was the second person who had autism to graduate from there.

  4. August 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    You may wish to contact Temple Grandon, a graduate of Franklin Pierce University, NH.

  5. Dina Girdaukas
    August 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    My son went to Lakeshore Tech and he did pass couple of classes but with difficulty. Got a customer service certificate. He tries so hard! Basically they told me it was too hard for him. He wants to succeed!! I think on the job training would be best for him. But where? Congrats to you for graduating. My son is talented in many other ways. Wish someone would just give him a chance. Dina

  6. cbitikofer
    August 22, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    My son with Asperger’s took his first day of classes at a small, highly-ranked parochial college, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Test- and note-taking accommodations were readily offered, and he obtained a single dorm room for the cost of a double. Resident hall staff were friendly and made him feel at home.

    I recommend parents with high school students obtain all the records you possibly can, and utilize any resources available in high school, as these are what his college required to get him the help he needs. In our state, offering these accommodations, I believe, is required for the institution, public or private, to receive government funding. I’m not sure if this varies from state to state.

    I also recommend being a squeaky wheel, and being very proactive, especially making contact with the student life staff, the academic counselors, etc. We found the small college atmosphere very conducive to this, and they actually sought us out to work out certain aspects of his social and academic needs.

    I’m not sure how one would obtain data from institutions of higher learning, if that’s self-reporting from the students themselves, or if they track students receiving accommodations. I agree that much would be lost to our society if we let these inspiring young people fall through the cracks by offering a one-size-fits-all education.

  7. August 23, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Can Autism U the group that has college participants do a survey of their member college Disabled Services departments to find out the number of students on the spectrum on their campuses? It would be a start.

  8. Barbara Kelley
    October 10, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    My name is Barbara Kelley, and I am currently working on a training program for teachers in colleges and universities where they learn more about individuals on the autism spectrum who are enrolled in their schools with my Walden University program. The Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas has many students with Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder. My question to you is did you have any problems with your teachers in college or university, and if you did, do you think you would have been willing to be a keynote speaker at one of their training classes? If there is anyone else out there who reads this comment, and you are an individual with Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder, or any other type of autism, and you are currently enrolled in a college or university, or are a recent graduate, please respond to my comment and let me know how you and your teachers responded to each other. You can also e-mail me at bafk2007@yahoo.com or barbarafarrkelley3@yahoo.com. Thank you.

  1. August 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm
  2. August 22, 2011 at 7:03 pm
  3. August 23, 2011 at 9:18 am

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