How to support your students with autism

For students with autism, campus life can bring social, emotional, and organizational challenges, Jonathan Cox and Mikle South report for the Washington Post.

Students with autism or another disability have a 41% graduation rate, whereas the national average in the United States is a 59% graduation rate, write Brigham Young University's (BYU) South, an associate professor of psychology, and Cox, an assistant clinical professor of counseling and psychological services.

They note that students with autism cite mental health and social isolation as their biggest challenges, according to an ongoing survey by Durham University.

Some students with autism struggle with organization and can face a difficult time adapting to the self-directed structure of college classes, Cox and South write. And for those with sensory difficulties, navigating crowded campuses and loud dining halls can trigger overstimulation, the authors add.

Also see: Why extreme anxiety is at an all-time high among American students

To better serve students with autism, many institutions are launching support networks to help ease the adjustment to college life, Cox and South report. Utah Valley University, for example, is establishing a program to help students with autism build skills and engage in social activities.

Students with autism can also benefit from therapy sessions, but do better if they can attend more counseling sessions than their peers, according to Cox and South's analysis of client records from BYU's Counseling and Psychological Service Center.

Institutions can also assign students with autism a dedicated mentor to support them throughout their transition or establish spaces with minimal sensory stimulation for exams, Cox and South recommend (Cox/South, Washington Post, 11/6).

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