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College to Open Residence Hall for Students with Autism

Not all students successfully transition into college life. The change can be even more strenuous for those living with intellectual disabilities or autism. Fortunately, several colleges now offer residential experiences tailored to students with autism. In this post, Direct Care Innovations covers these residence hall programs and why we need them. 

College To Open Residence Hall For Students With Autism

Residence Halls Cater to Students

St. Joseph’s, located in Philadelphia, is home to the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. The college plans to establish its first residence hall for students with autism. This summer, Saint Albert’s Hall will undergo up to $250,000 in improvements. Moreover, the residence hall provides capacity for 17 student residents and one resident advisor.

Students with autism sometimes display exceptional school performance, but they occasionally struggle to interact socially. Therefore, St Joseph created its program, dubbed ASPIRE, to address the issue. The program allows students on the spectrum to live in specialized housing for two years before transitioning. While there, students are paired with peer mentors, work on social skills, take a full course load, and participate in social activities and events. As a result, the longer runway provided by the residence hall allows students on the autism spectrum to successfully move from high school to college. Finally, the program boasts an impressive 84% six-year graduation rate.

Resident-Focused Design

Resident hall designers used an autism-friendly approach to the living quarters. Their approach helps students build community without all the noise and “sensory overload” of a large dorm with hundreds of students and shared bathrooms. To achieve this, designers met with students to gather their input on lighting, colors, furniture, and materials. The team wanted to know what aspects, including colors and textures, provided comfort to students with autism and which ones provoked anxiety. Consequently, they designed a living space that caters to the students’ needs and desires, which helps create a calm, comfortable environment where students flourish. 

Leaders Making an Impact

Other schools have taken steps in this direction, too. Another group of residential colleges in Vermont, Oregon, and Wisconsin provide similar housing and services to students with autism and intellectual disabilities. Some colleges have specific floors with resident assistants trained in autism.

According to the College Autism Spectrum, more than 70 colleges nationwide have autism programs, including Drexel University, Eastern University, Rutgers University, and West Chester University. 

Around the country, the number of individuals identified with autism is also growing. A decade ago, one in 88 kids was diagnosed with autism. Now it’s 1 in 44 children—the higher number results from improved diagnosis methods and better early intervention school services.

Direct Care Innovations Supports Students with Autism

At Direct Care Innovation, we celebrate all efforts toward improving life and healthcare for those living with autism and intellectual disabilities. Our business management software features EVV, authorization management, time & payroll, etc. We serve agencies in all 50 states. Call (480) 295-3307 for more information. 


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