Autistic and Transitioning to College? What Students and Families Need to Know

Autistic STEM Graduate student Patrick Dwyer had a successful high-school-to-college transition outcome because he and his family set high expectations for his achievements. Patrick strategically pursued a scaffolded or supported independence. This supported independence included beginning his academic career while living at home and attending a local community college. Additionally, Patrick identified challenges that would be difficult for him once supports available in high school were no longer there. Then, he actively worked at improving those areas. A successful college transition is about so much more than academic capabilities–self advocacy and internal motivation, among other skills, are equally if not more important. 

Patrick has some great blogs on how to organize your academic schedule, choose classes, and take advantage of professor’s office hours. You might also like the self-advocacy videos here and here by autistic STEM grad student Laura Gilmour.

Patrick raises so many important considerations: we’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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Patrick is an autistic graduate student in the psychology department at UC Davis with a broad interest in helping to ensure that autistic and neurodivergent people can lead fulfilling lives. He plans to use eye-tracking and electrophysiology to explore the heterogeneity of the autism spectrum and different phenotypes of autism, and is particularly interested in studying sensory processing and sensory sensitivities in autism. He has also facilitated peer-support groups for other autistic college students. You can find more of Patrick’s writing on his blog at autisticscholar.com.

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