In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum.
According to Think College , a national organization dedicated to developing college opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, more than 260 colleges across the nation now offer on-campus transition programs for this population. That’s up from just 25 such programs in 2004.
These programs often have been launched with private donations or with seed funding from the Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID), which was funded by the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. TPSID also made students with intellectual disabilities eligible for Pell grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and the Federal Work-Study program. Once in place, the programs are usually self-supporting through the tuition and fees paid for by the students, many of whom receive scholarships.
Typically, the programs are four to five semesters in length, although more mature programs, like Vanderbilt’s Next Steps and George Mason University’s LIFE have expanded to four years. After completing the program, students are awarded a graduation certificate that officially recognizes their achievement. Some may transfer to a traditional baccalaureate program.
For colleges that have not yet begun a program for students with IDD, the advice is simple: you should. Technical assistance can be found at the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, the Association of Higher Education And Disability, the National Center for College Students with Disabilities , the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights, and the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.