Skip to main content Skip to main content

How to support students with autism-spectrum disorders

“Integrated Support for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in College” program offers group therapy, one-on-one peer support and more.

By Siva priya Santhanam

February 13, 2019

Students sitting in classroom listening to lectureSpeech, Language and Hearing Sciences faculty are piloting a program to help students with autism-spectrum disorders get the most out of their Metropolitan State University of Denver experience. The one-hour “Integrated Support for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in College” (ISSAC) sessions include group therapy, one-on-one peer support and opportunities to practice social communication and executive functioning skills. The free program kicks off Friday and will run on subsequent Fridays in the Access Center, Plaza 122, with eight sessions each semester.

About 45 students with ASD are enrolled at MSU Denver. According to Access Center staff, that number is constantly rising as each year about one-third of youth diagnosed with ASD enroll in higher-education institutions. However, only 20 percent of these students graduate and successfully find and maintain jobs.

ISSAC is the first postsecondary-university-based program for students with ASD in the state. Unlike K-12 programs, college environments provide less structure for students with ASD and support often is limited to legally mandated accommodations (e.g., extra time in exams, use of a note taker, etc.) that are not sufficient for student success.

Although many students on the autism spectrum are capable of college-level work, they often face challenges in learning and using skills central to college life such as:

  • Asking for help in the classroom

  • Difficulty interacting with peers on campus

  • Organizing and managing schedules for multiple classes

  • Engaging in group classroom activities

Faculty and staff support for this program is extremely important. Faculty have the direct experiential knowledge of interacting with students and are often most sensitive and motivated to find ways to help students with disabilities be successful.

If you are interested in learning more about how to support students with autism in your classrooms and on campus, please take two minutes to complete this survey. Your interest will help the development of a faculty learning community that focuses on teaching and supporting Roadrunners with autism. For more information on the ISSAC program, contact Siva priya Santhanam at or 303-615-1987.


Edit this page