College: What I Wish I Knew Before Coming | Organization for Autism Research

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Question:

What do you wish you knew before coming to college?

Answer:

How to be an adult. I feel like we tend to neglect a lot of independent living and executive functioning skills. When you’re on your own, there are no parental reminders to brush your teeth, shower, wake up, eat three meals a day, et cetera. I find myself sometimes forgetting to function properly sometimes.

I also wish we spent more time on these types of skills. So many things I learned for the first time right before college or during college, like how to use ATMs (I recall practicing using them two months before college), setting a schedule, or doing laundry (a funny story: my first week of college, I didn’t know how the dorm laundry machines worked. So I put all my clothes with my detergent in the dryer. I had no idea why they were still soaked in detergent, but warm. Then I realized that was the dryers all stacked and the washers were at another part of the room. Oops. I need to see or be shown things to know how they work.).

The issue is so much effort is spent preparing students for the academic challenges. It happened in law school too. Sometimes I think students – especially autistics – need some preparation on how important self-care and independent living skills are, and remembering to actually do things outside of academic pressure. It’s just as important to find a sense of self and purpose. I am a huge proponent of teaching important life skills, and it’s more than okay to take time to yourself to do that.

I also thought college was going to be a lot more work than it was, but you have a lot of downtime from schoolwork, so get out, have some fun, but also don’t neglect yourself (it happens. Look at everyone who gains the “Freshman 15” or watches Netflix until 3am and realize they have an 8am class the next morning).

 

About the Editor

Haley Moss, age 21, is a self-advocate from Boca Raton, Florida. Diagnosed with autism at the age of three, she is now a second-year law student at the University of Miami and expects to graduate in May 2018. She previously graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Criminology & Law and a B.S. in Psychology. Moss is author of A Freshman Survival Guide for College Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders.


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