Jonathan Cox and Mikle South, two clinical professors at Brigham Young University, published results of an investigation. The study examined the success in college with autism spectrum disorder. The authors published the results in Spectrum. The article was then summarized in the Washington Post.

Cox and South noted several factors for student who live with autism while attending college.  Mental health, fitting in socially, and the risk for suicide are top concerns for students both on the spectrum and their non-disabled peers. They report that while 59% of all students graduate with a 4-year degree, only 41% of students with autism earn their baccalaureate. Around 1-2% of the student body might report an autism spectrum disorder at most major universities.

However, results of pre-treatment and post-treatment surveys taken from students receiving services at Brigham Young’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center reveal that students benefit from therapy whether or not they have autism. The difference is the length of treatment.  Typically, student living with autism take twice the number of sessions to show similar improvements in quality of life than other students with mental health concerns. The stress of academics and adjusting to college can lead to incidents of anxiety and depression for many university students.

Success in College with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Students living with autism on university campuses also benefit from spaces free of environmental distractions like quiet, distraction-reduced testing rooms available at disability services offices. University services may also include the following:

  1. Counseling services for student
  2. Peer mentoring
  3. Tutoring
  4. Learning strategies counseling and study skills workshops
  5. Academic accommodations through the disability services offices
  6. Autism wrap around services at some universities such as CADD at University of Houston: Clear Lake

For maximizing success in college with autism spectrum disorders, student should take advantage of services a university may offer. Students who use these services can prevent or minimize setbacks. While not all of these services specialize in students living with a disability, these offices can help the student meet their goals for the future.

The original article was published October 24, 2017 in Spectrum.

Photo Credit: Element5 Digital on Unsplash


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