Students with autism can require special education support in college, as well. Students with autism must also ask for desired accommodations throughout their college career. Special education support in college is particularly important for students with Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism. College is an especially challenging environment for autistic students because they often cannot function well without the extra stimulation provided by college instructors and peers.
Students who have either been in foster care or are a foster child can also benefit from special education support in college, as can children with autism spectrum disorders. Foster care is a situation in which a child is removed from his or her natural parents and placed in a situation where he or she will not be exposed to family members who suffer from developmental disabilities. Children in foster care are usually unable to blend into their new environment, and face barriers when trying to develop friendships and relationships.
A child who has been in foster care can experience symptoms similar to those who are autistic. However, a child who has been in out-of-home care can benefit more than those who have been in traditional foster care. They may also struggle more with loneliness. A child in foster care transition might also gain more skills through the support of his or her biological parents.
There are many opportunities for children with autism spectrum disorders who are in foster youth transitions. The Department of Education supports the well-being of students with various abilities and disabilities through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Department also provides technical assistance for individuals with various abilities and disabilities who are in transition to college. The National Autism Services Organization (NASSO) provides transitional housing for foster youth and educates parents about the rights of disabled individuals in education.
The federal Rehabilitation Act establishes special education requirements for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. The State Special Education Plans (SEO) provide services that ensure students with special needs or disabilities will have the same opportunities for education as other students.
The Higher Education Act (HEA) grants money for the cost of tuition, fees, books, supplies, and room and board for a student with disabilities who is enrolled in an educational program. Both the Higher Education and Rehabilitation Services departments coordinate the transition services for students in foster youth facilities. One such program is the Special Education Student Loan repayment program (SEVPP), which pays a portion of the loans a foster youth receives to pay for his or her special needs.
Fostering partnerships between colleges and universities and the federal government are essential elements of transition planning. These partnerships can be achieved by providing extra help in the form of financial aid and scholarship programs for prospective students with special needs and disabilities. Many colleges participate in the Special Education Student Loan repayment program (SEVPP) through the Department of Education. States also participate in the program but must submit individual plans for transitioning a child to college. Federal agencies such as the Department of Education, the Office of Special Education Programs, the Social Services Block Grants, the Federal Perkins Loan and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program administer the SEVPP.