Planning for college

If your child wants to go to college, there are lots of ways to support them!

You should be talking to your child as early as possible about their plans for the future, especially if they want to go to college.

It will help your family in the long run to get a head start on preparing for this big change!

Here's what you can do:

  • Make sure your child's IEP includes planning for college! Meet with your IEP team to talk about it. For example: Does your child need support taking tests like the SAT or ACT? If so, make sure they fill out the paperwork with SAT or ACT ahead of time to get the testing accommodations on test day.

  • Start the process early — as early as 9th grade.

  • If your child has a guidance counselor, make sure they are part of the IEP team. They should know about your child's strengths and challenges, and what kind of support they might need in college.

  • Talk to your child about college. Find out what they want, and help them learn about the options.

  • Talk to other parents who are going through this. Connect with your town's special education advisory panel, or call Families Helping Families at 866-216-7474.

  • Learn about the options. There are special college programs, services, and even scholarships that can help your child through college.

There are many things that help a student choose which college they want to attend.

Image of parent character Paula beside a thought bubble containing the text 'There are many things that help a student choose which college they want to attend.   Here are some questions to ask your child: Why do you want to go to college? What do you hope to learn? What job do you want to have after college? Where do you want to go to school? In-state, another state, or abroad? Will it be helpful to have services set up at the school? (Ex. note-taking help, taped textbooks, counseling, etc.)'


Once you know which colleges your child wants to apply to, start researching their requirements.

Applying to a college usually includes:

  • taking tests like the SAT or ACT (usually in junior year of high school)

  • sending in high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores

  • collecting letters of recommendation

  • filling out an application (often online)

Go to the college's website or call their admission office to ask questions.


When you have time, look at these articles to learn about college options for young adults with ASD.

Click the link at the bottom of the page to download a guide from Autism Speaks. It tells you about the types of college programs you can choose, how to make a good choice, your student's rights, and more:

These are websites. Click on the title, and they will open in a new tab on your computer.

Sources: Autism Speaks, and Interactive Autism Network


Sources: Autism Speaks, Interactive Autism Network


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