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Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

May 20, 2021

Episode 90: Successfully Navigating College With Autism, Part 3

To help with the transition to college, work on independence at home, bit by bit, select the goal with the student and start with the easiest one, rather than the hardest or most importance, then build up from there. Incorporate a reward system into the mix. It is helpful to help the child gain independence in communication with the teacher and have the student ask for the help and supports, especially starting in high school. Same thing with doctor appointments. Have the student schedule their own well visit. If they aren’t comfortable with it or can’t do it, work on self-awareness, anxiety, and social skills that are preventing this from happening.

Know that in college, writing and written expression are huge. If a student struggles with written expression, college will be difficult. It is helpful to figure out in high school why they might have trouble and to see what can be done to help, if possible. If there is a subject that the student hates, see if there is a way that they can engage as minimally as possible, but in a way that they will get by in the college courses they need to take.

Another big issue is the ability to include oneself. Students need to find ways to make themselves part of communities in college. Without socialization, depression can occur. Create or find ways to do this in high school. Practice having conversations and introducing yourself. Keep in mind that once your child is 18, the college does not have to speak with parents unless the student signs a release. Agree as a family beforehand about the level of involvement of the parent in the college education and have the student sign a release right off the bat. Then develop plans to fade out parent involvement and support and empower students to be their own supports over time. This should start in the high school years. Let the student know ahead of time that parents will start to fade out.


When it comes to employment planning, parents often have great ideas to create or carve out jobs for their children. It is helpful to identify career interests and skills that need to be built, in order to help the student be extra prepared for employment after college. Employment doesn’t always go well because the traditional interviewing and hiring process is a poor fit. The interview process is heavy on social engagement, social nuances, fast rapport building and social communication, navigating small talk and chit chat, and navigating questions about strength and weaknesses. Experience-based/task-based interviews are a better fit. Other things to help with job-finding include finding a career mentor, making sure the students accrue some sort of vocational experience in high school and college, finding jobs that give students an opportunity to practice basic work skills to start off, have them use their school career center to identify opportunities, and connect to vocational rehabilitation services.




Emory Autism Center Education and Transition Services

The College Autism Network

NASPA  College Autism Summit

College Autism Spectrum

Frist Center For Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt



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Show Music:

Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Theme Song: 90s rock style by monkeyman535 under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Self Care Song: Green and Orange No Water by Duncan Alex under CC-BY 3.0 License (


Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple


Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2021 Jessica Temple