New research indicates young adults with disabilities are less likely to participate in traditional coming of age activities such as going to college or living independently than their typically developing peers.
According to the study, 55 percent of those with disabilities continued their education after high school, compare that to 62 percent of those without special needs.
The findings come from a report released in September by the National Center for Special Education Research, a division of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institution of Education Sciences. Based on data from a 10 year study of more than 11,000 students with disabilities, the research is compelling, but not all hope for higher education and those with disabilities is lost.
Recently, “The Autistic Self Advocacy Network,” wrote a handbook for autistic students written by autistic adults called “Navigating College,” that helps autistic students adjust and transition to college life, but possible.
Broken into sections with headings like “Professors,” “Health and Wellness” and “Autism and Dorm Life,” the handbook gives firsthand accounts of how autistic students adjusted to the independence of college life.
Offering advice and tips for making the move as smooth as possible, the student accounts draw from real life experience and allow individuals, disabled or not, to understand just how the particulars of college life can be daunting for someone with autism.
Many colleges can make accommodations if your disability is documented. Do not be afraid to say something; here is what you can expect from many institutions:
• Note takers in class, so you don’t have to split your attention between listening to lectures and writing down notes
• Copies of visual aids the professor shows during class
• Extra time for taking exams
• Taking exams in a separate and less distracting environment, away from the class
• Receiving course materials in alternate format (electronic files or audio recordings) if you have difficulty reading text
• Minor modifications to assignments or exams
• Reduced course load/course substitutions
Along with classroom adjustments, the handbook discusses how to handle various social settings from living with roommates to going to parties. College is not just a place, it is a way of life and this handbook provides plenty of insight as to how to make friends, get an education and build a way of life that is comfortable for you.