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Based on the film, AUTISM GOES TO COLLEGE, this website is filled with content to help you deal with going to college: how to choose a college, how to get help, and how to help yourself.

Based on the film, AUTISM GOES TO COLLEGE, this website is filled with content to help you deal with going to college: how to choose a college, how to get help, and how to help yourself.

Based on the film, AUTISM GOES TO COLLEGE, this website is filled with content to help you deal with going to college: how to choose a college, how to get help, and how to help yourself.

managing college anxiety 101

managing college anxiety 101

by Dr. Eric Endlich, Ph.D.

by Dr. Eric Endlich, Ph.D.

While many families worry about college admissions, autistic high school students and their parents may face even higher levels of stress.

While many families worry about college admissions, autistic high school students and their parents may face even higher levels of stress.

While many families worry about college admissions, autistic high school students and their parents may face even higher levels of stress. In addition to the daily, ongoing anxiety that many autistic teens experience, they often have specific worries about transitioning to a new environment:

“Will I be able to make friends, or will I be excluded as I have been in the past? Will I be able to tolerate the sounds and food smells in the dining hall? Will I be able to get along with a roommate?” Moreover, parents frequently worry that their children are not fully college-ready and will not be able to manage independently.

While many families worry about college admissions, autistic high school students and their parents may face even higher levels of stress. In addition to the daily, ongoing anxiety that many autistic teens experience, they often have specific worries about transitioning to a new environment:

“Will I be able to make friends, or will I be excluded as I have been in the past? Will I be able to tolerate the sounds and food smells in the dining hall? Will I be able to get along with a roommate?” Moreover, parents frequently worry that their children are not fully college-ready and will not be able to manage independently.

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Will I be able to make friends?
Or will I be excluded, as in the past?

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Will I be able to tolerate the sounds and food smells in the dining hall?

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Will I be able to get along with roommates?

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college = independent living + academics

college = independent living + academics

If students are doing well in challenging high school courses (e.g., IB, AP, honors, accelerated or dual enrollment), they are quite likely college-capable, meaning they can handle the academic rigor of postsecondary studies. But being college–ready means being able to manage independence. Family concerns about readiness are often well-founded, and students may need more time to work on skills such as time management, self-advocacy and independent living. Fortunately, there are many ways to develop these skills via summer and gap year programs, as well as through support programs while in college.

If students are doing well in challenging high school courses (e.g., IB, AP, honors, accelerated or dual enrollment), they are quite likely college-capable, meaning they can handle the academic rigor of postsecondary studies. But being college–ready means being able to manage independence. Family concerns about readiness are often well-founded, and students may need more time to work on skills such as time management, self-advocacy and independent living. Fortunately, there are many ways to develop these skills via summer and gap year programs, as well as through support programs while in college.

Anxiety, depression, and other issues are increasingly common in college students.”

Anxiety, depression, and other issues are increasingly common in college students.”

social & emotional readiness

social & emotional readiness

In addition to these vital skills, students need to be emotionally prepared for college. Anxiety, depression and other issues are increasingly common in college students, and can easily derail a students’ educational pathway if not properly addressed. These four questions can help you determine if you’re emotionally ready to transition to college:

In addition to these vital skills, students need to be emotionally prepared for college. Anxiety, depression and other issues are increasingly common in college students, and can easily derail a students’ educational pathway if not properly addressed. These four questions can help you determine if you’re emotionally ready to transition to college:

thanks to our vivid imaginations, the sensations of acute anxiety…are just as real as the symptoms of true fear.

thanks to our vivid imaginations, the sensations of acute anxiety…are just as real as the symptoms of true fear.

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Do you know how you respond under high levels of stress?

Self-awareness of your vulnerabilities is an important first step in dealing with challenges. For example, when the going gets tough, do you tend to develop panic attacks, depression, or addictive behaviors?

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Do you know the “red flags” indicating that your mental health issues might be resurfacing?

It could be patterns such as skipping meals, avoiding friends, sleeping later or procrastinating on school assignments.

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Do you have go-to techniques for getting back on track?

Make sure to write down a list of what’s worked before, and resume these habits promptly as needed.

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Do you know how to get more help if your standard techniques aren’t sufficient?

Scout out the on-campus counseling resources (as well as supportive clubs or groups), and hold onto contact information from previous professionals you’ve worked with–or find some good referral sources.

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Do you know how you respond under high levels of stress?

Self-awareness of your vulnerabilities is an important first step in dealing with challenges. For example, when the going gets tough, do you tend to develop panic attacks, depression, or addictive behaviors?

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Do you know the “red flags” indicating that your mental health issues might be resurfacing?

It could be patterns such as skipping meals, avoiding friends, sleeping later or procrastinating on school assignments.

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Do you have go-to techniques for getting back on track?

Make sure to write down a list of what’s worked before, and resume these habits promptly as needed.

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Do you know how to get more help if your standard techniques aren’t sufficient?

Scout out the on-campus counseling resources (as well as supportive clubs or groups), and hold onto contact information from previous professionals you’ve worked with–or find some good referral sources.

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If you don’t end up needing these resources, that’s great, but a mental health crisis is not the time to be starting this research.”

If you don’t end up needing these resources, that’s great, but a mental health crisis is not the time to be starting this research.”

Anxiety is uncomfortable.

Anxiety is uncomfortable.

To be clear, anxiety is a normal human emotion that we all feel on occasion. Unlike fear, which is an instinctive reaction to an actual, imminent danger, anxiety is often a response to imagined future threats such as social rejection or academic failure. However, thanks to our vivid imaginations, the sensations of acute anxiety (e.g., racing pulse, rapid and shallow breathing, stomach upset) are very similar to–and just as real as–the symptoms of true fear. When future outcomes are unknown, as they typically are, many people become more anxious; however, since we frequently can’t eliminate the uncertainty, we must instead learn to cope with it and find other ways to manage anxiety.

Anxiety is by its nature uncomfortable, so we are highly motivated to escape or eliminate it. Some of the unhelpful ways that people respond to anxiety, include avoidance (e.g., putting off a class assignment), addictive/compulsive behaviors (including excessive gaming or social media use) and seeking reassurance (e.g., “Do you think this college will admit me?”).

To be clear, anxiety is a normal human emotion that we all feel on occasion. Unlike fear, which is an instinctive reaction to an actual, imminent danger, anxiety is often a response to imagined future threats such as social rejection or academic failure. However, thanks to our vivid imaginations, the sensations of acute anxiety (e.g., racing pulse, rapid and shallow breathing, stomach upset) are very similar to–and just as real as–the symptoms of true fear. When future outcomes are unknown, as they typically are, many people become more anxious; however, since we frequently can’t eliminate the uncertainty, we must instead learn to cope with it and find other ways to manage anxiety.

Anxiety is by its nature uncomfortable, so we are highly motivated to escape or eliminate it. Some of the unhelpful ways that people respond to anxiety, include avoidance (e.g., putting off a class assignment), addictive/compulsive behaviors (including excessive gaming or social media use) and seeking reassurance (e.g., “Do you think this college will admit me?”).

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calming practices

(meditation, yoga, tai chi, deep breathing, etc.)

mindfulness

(staying. in touch with sensations of the immediate present)

exercise

(move your body even if you don’t feel like it)

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music

(the effect of music can stimulate or calms brain waves)

structure

(regularly times for meals, rest, study, exercise, and socializing)

journaling

(a safe place for your thoughts—check-in with yourself)

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treatment

(medication, individual or group therapy, etc.)

connecting with others

(we humans are social creatures)

finding balance

(including both study time and fun, for example)

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When teens learn effective techniques for regulating their emotions and parents discover the range of programs and services available for their children, their stress levels often decrease. With a thoughtful approach, selecting and applying to colleges can be an enjoyable experience for students, setting the stage for a successful, mentally healthy transition to higher education.

When teens learn effective techniques for regulating their emotions and parents discover the range of programs and services available for their children, their stress levels often decrease. With a thoughtful approach, selecting and applying to colleges can be an enjoyable experience for students, setting the stage for a successful, mentally healthy transition to higher education.

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EPISODE 9: WHEN PROFESSORS ARE HELPFUL, IT REALLY HELPS

In this episode, Caroline talks with one of her professors at Cal State Fullerton, JudelMay Enriquez, about the ways they worked together.

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It is estimated that 2% of US college students have autism. With a combined 20 million public and private college students nationwide, it is estimated that over 400,000 students attending college in the US have autism. That number is steadily rising.

It is estimated that 2% of US college students have autism. With a combined 20 million public and private college students nationwide, it is estimated that over 400,000 students attending college in the US have autism. That number is steadily rising.

It is estimated that 2% of US college students have autism. With a combined 20 million public and private college students nationwide, it is estimated that over 400,000 students attending college in the US have autism. That number is steadily rising.