Autism Friendly Colleges in California

According to Autism Speaks, one in every 150 children is diagnosed with autism. The needs of autistic students vary greatly and each family will have their own individual requirements as well as desires when researching an institution of higher education. 

Colleges across California have various programs with individualized support systems that are capable of accommodating most students. To decide whether a college is a right fit, the following should be considered:

  • Presence of a support center
  • Teachers who have undergone training or certification for teaching students with autism
  • The college should have modifications for autistic students: extended time on tests, copies of teachers’ notes, etc.
  • Presence of autistic based social organizations on campus: autistic organizations, peer mentor programs

What Are the Most Autism-Friendly Colleges in California?

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California features various autism-related programs and services:

  • Disability services and programs is housed within the division of student affairs and provides support services that enable students to develop maximum academic potential. It also empowers students to work independently. Some of the free services provided include:
    • Tutoring
    • Note taking
    • Special accommodation for testing
    • Assistive technology
  • University of Southern California Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is a lifestyle redesign program for people living with autism. The program supports adults and adolescents in achieving independent living as well as academic and career goals. The program helps students to incorporate lifestyle changes to enhance their quality of life:
    • To set realistic goals
    • To develop health-promoting daily routines
    • Increase social and communication skills
    • To develop strategies to cope with stress and anxiety
    • To utilize adaptive sensory strategies in multiple environments

California State University, East Bay

California State University, East Bay has been recognized as one of the many autism-friendly schools in California. The university features various autism-related programs.

  • The university runs the College Link Program, which was established in the 2010 – 2011 academic year. The program aims to help students who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to transition and succeed in a higher education environment. The program enables students to identify their strengths in achieving academic and social success. Ultimately, the program hopes to increase students’ independence and decrease dependence on family and coaching support.

The College Link Program has been supported by donors including Educational Foundation Trustee, Allen Warren. In some cases, students who are registered with the department of rehabilitation and found eligible for the program receive financial assistance.

  • The Conversation Club is a program run by the Communicative Sciences and Disorder program. The program aims to help CSU East Bay students to improve their ability to read social and emotional cues. The program helps students learn to interact in social situations, communicate their ideas and feelings, and make friends and bond with their loved ones.

California State University, Fullerton

California State University, Fullerton is recognized among the top autism-friendly colleges. The university runs ‘PACS’ (Peer Assisted College Support Program), which aims to provide practical support to students of Cal State Fullerton who are living with autism. The program hopes to facilitate a successful transition to college by pairing freshmen students with returning students who have experienced success at the college level. The partners meet biweekly through the semester to discuss and work through critical issues related to college life. The students are given an opportunity to troubleshoot the challenges of attending college with someone who is already in college.

CSU Fullerton runs the Center for Autism, which assists families with autistic children as well as trains students who are interested in the research of autism. The center also:

  • Conducts research on developmental issues in young children
  • Evaluates children with autism
  • Coordinates services for families with children living with autism
  • Conducts early screening to identify children with autism

California State University, Long Beach

California State University, Long Beach features the LIFE Project (Learning Independence for Empowerment) for autistic students as well as students with other social-cognitive challenges. The program facilitates workshops, presentations, and various projects through interactive games as well as other social activities. The program is run by autism specialists at the disabled student services center on campus. Students learn and practice:

  • Social interactions
  • Time management
  • Improving self-governing abilities to navigate campus life more efficiently
  • Independence
  • Developing friendships
  • Job skills
  • Handling frustration, anger, and anxiety
  • Leadership skills

The program features:

  • Peer coaching
  • Friday workshops
  • Parent seminars

California College Bound is available to assist students and families in finding the perfect program in meeting their family’s specific needs. Join us for a tour of these colleges as well as many other notable institutions of higher learning in California.

  1. Sheree Carter says:

    I have a kiddo with ASD. She is very high functioning and is on tract to graduate with a diploma in 2021. She is extremely interested in experiencing the college life away from home. I would love all the information you can send me.

  2. Maggie Haga says:

    Hi, my daughter is planning to attend a community college. She had attended two years of community college and had a great deal of stress and difficulties. What would be very helpful is if she could have a mentor or a peer that can attend a class with her and provide feedback. Is there any programs that offer something like this? Thank you!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>