In the last of a three-part series, the Ventura County Star looks at the growing number of people with ASD who are going to college:
Around the nation, their numbers are growing at state universities, private colleges and community colleges. Locally, at least 50 have registered this year at Ventura College, 18 at CSU Channel Islands and 10 at CLU.
Total numbers are unknown because the only figures come from college offices where disabled students can register for assistance. But those enrollments are easily double what they were five years ago, and officials believe many more are on campus who don't disclose they have autism or Asperger syndrome, which is included on the spectrum of autism disorders. Some consider Asperger's a separate disorder, while others believe it's high-functioning autism.
The trend has spawned books for students and parents, and business for private coaches who advise autistic students on how to navigate college life. Rutgers University, the Rochester Institute of Technology and CSU Channel Islands, among others, have developed special programs to help these students succeed.
It's a dramatic change from the 1960s, when many autistic people were more likely to be locked in institutions in California. The college trend is driven not only by the growing number of diagnosed people, but by early intervention programs, educators said.
"Behavioral therapy at an early age has really opened doors," said Ventura College teacher Steve Turner, who has worked with autistic people in various settings since the 1980s.