What makes college especially difficult for young adults with autism? How do challenges with Executive Functioning impact college success for these young students? What types of interventions are helpful for a college student with ASD, and what are some resources parents can look at to learn how to support their child with ASD going to college? Today, Dan Hicks, the director of Northwest College Support shared some insightful information for those students and families struggling with autism while attending college with host Lon Woodbury and his co-host Liz McGhee on LA TALK radio's Parent Choices for Struggling Teens.
Often a student who was good at learning specific subjects all through kindergarten through 12th grade, is now suddenly hit with complex deadlines, expectations from different teachers, the need for major organization skills and time management. What happens is the multiple degrees in complexities has gone up for them resulting in difficulties throughout their college experience. They have a tough time managing their emotions and thoughts and without the needed support can spiral into depression. Social struggles and isolation become a vicious cycle. Young adults with ASD can also have addictions- mainly with electronic devices: computers, gaming systems and other technology devices compounding the isolation from socializing. Drinking and the use of drugs can also become a problem for these bright students because they use these deterrents to help them socialize.
There are a wide range of interventions and options for young adults struggling in college. From common ones, such as organizational skill building, how to plan their day or even how to use their technology devices in a productive way, to more advanced options- relaxation techniques and mindfulness to work on the internal chaos. "When working with and assessing a young adult with autism we look at three specific categories for intervention: academic, social skills and life skills. I tell parents 'let them be adults' let them learn and manage their lives. It is hard for parent to drop that role though. They have had to helicopter their child's organization and time management for so long. That is when I ask them- "when will you stop? These bright young students are hovering on a thin line of being extremely dependent or extremely successful.
Lon Woodbury is the owner/founder of Woodbury Reports, Inc. and www.strugglingteens.com. He has worked with families and struggling teens since 1984 and is the host of Parent Choices for Struggling Teens.
Elizabeth McGhee is the Director of Admissions and Referral Relations at Sandhill Child Development Center and has over 19 years' of clinical, consulting and referral relations experience to her position and is the co-host.
Dan Hanks is the director of Northwest College Support in Coeur d'Alene, ID. Dan holds a Masters of Education in Counseling and School Psychology from the University of Idaho and provides testing, assessments and therapy, in addition to a wide range of intervention and support services to young adults attending college. Dan specializes in working with individuals with learning disabilities, ASD issues, ADHD issues and those struggling with addictions.
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