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A Journey of Hope: Our Autism-Friendly College Campus Experience

When my son, Steven, set his sights on higher education, my heart swelled with pride. As a mom, you want the whole wide world to open up for your child, and when I looked at Steven's unwavering determination to chase his dreams, I knew we were embarking on a brand new and exhilarating chapter. But, like any mom out there, I couldn't help but worry about whether the college campus he chose would truly be a place that embraced autism and supported his unique needs.

The moment of truth finally came, and we stood at the crossroads of decisions, each a stepping stone toward Steven's future. After nights of careful research and countless conversations, we finally arrived at our choice: Kennesaw State University. This place so far is proving to be one of the most significant and heartfelt decisions we've ever made. He's in his first year now, and I'm bursting with pride.

Someone asked me, "Is their college campus autism-friendly?" From my experience thus far, I can wholeheartedly say, "Yes, it is." But it's vital to understand that not all college campuses are created equal, just as no two individuals on the autism spectrum are identical. Our journey led us to a university that cherished inclusion and support for students like Steven.

Kennesaw State University welcomed us with arms wide open, and it was evident from the very start that they genuinely comprehended the unique needs and challenges that students with autism face. I couldn't help but feel the warmth of the campus as we dug deeper into this thrilling new chapter.

One of the most reassuring aspects of KSU was its Student Disability Services. It wasn't just a box to check; it was a place that genuinely cared about Steven's success. Throughout the summer, they graciously met with us three times, patiently addressing all our questions and concerns. The care and attention they showered on us assured me that Steven was in the right place, understood, and cared for.

But it was the accommodations provided by KSU that truly set it apart. Their accommodations included extended testing, alternative textbooks, note-taking assistance, assistive technology, and relaxed attendance policies. These were not just services but the keys that would unlock Steven's potential and help him become the person he aspired to be. It felt like a dream coming true, knowing that KSU had recognized and addressed the unique requirements of students on the autism spectrum.

In schools, students with autism often have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to support them. While these IEPs don't automatically transition to college campuses, KSU was one of the institutions that took the initiative to create a program that mirrored, if not exceeded, the support they had in school. Steven has an academic coach that he meets with every two weeks who helps him with time management, procrastination, self-motivation, note-taking, and reading strategies. It was a testament to the dedication and commitment of KSU to nurturing the dreams of students with autism.

As a mom, I couldn't be prouder of what the Georgia Inclusive Post-secondary Education Consortium has achieved and will continue to accomplish for the autism community. They are dedicated to ensuring that every Georgia student has access to learning after high school. The support and accommodations provided at Kennesaw State University are a testament of that progress. The steps taken by the state, the university, and its dedicated staff to make college a welcoming place for students on the autism spectrum are nothing short of extraordinary.

On this journey, we have found an autism-friendly college campus and a home where dreams are nurtured and individuality is celebrated. I am hopeful and grateful as I watch Steven flourish and grow at KSU. It's a reminder that, with the right support, our children can achieve their dreams and overcome any obstacle.

So, to all the parents and students out there wondering if college can be autism-friendly, I say this with confidence: yes, it can. With institutions like Kennesaw State University leading the way, we're not just setting the stage for success but crafting stories of triumph and resilience. The journey may be challenging, but with the right support, there's no limit to what our children can achieve.

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