Link to Kirkwood Community College

Post-secondary education is a viable option for students who have milder forms of autism, but these students often need support beyond the accommodations offered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Focused Skill Training (FST) program offers assistance on an individual basis to help students with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder be successful in all aspects of college life. Autism Spectrum Disorder includes students previously diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS.

The Focused Skill Training program started at Kirkwood Community College in fall 2011. Four part-time staff members provide services to students to increase their success and completion rate in college. Each student in the FST program works individually with his/her educational coach to determine the type of skills that need to be improved in order to succeed in college and the workplace. This is a voluntary program and each student must self-identify in order to be in the FST program. There is no cost for the program.

Students with an autism spectrum diagnosis who possess the following characteristics often can be successful in college classes at Kirkwood:

  • A good understanding of your abilities and strengths.
  • A good understanding of your personal traits which may interfere with  success at college.
  • The academic ability to complete college-level course work.
  • Mature and independent decision-making.
  • Ability to manage self-care and daily living tasks.
  • Diligence in class attendance and homework completion without daily reminders.
  • Demonstrate understanding of realistic career goals.
  • Make own arrangements for housing and transportation.

Students in the Focused Skill Training program can receive the following individualized support:

Social skills training in areas such as social cue recognition, exhibiting appropriate social behaviors, appropriate responses, respecting personal space, personal hygiene and body image, and engaging in social interaction.

  • Identifying and recognizing physical and verbal traits and mannerisms.
  • Coping with social anxiety, test anxiety and presentation anxiety.
  • Strategies for assignment completion, test preparation and time management.
  • Assistance with accessing campus and community services.
  • Encouragement to participate in social activities available on campus, in the community or through social opportunities planned by the FST staff.
  • A place and person to go to when difficult situations arise on campus.

To be eligible for assistance through the Focused Skill Training program, a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete the acceptance process at Kirkwood and register for at least two classes.
  • Provide recent documentation of an autism spectrum diagnosis. Additional assessments may be required (i.e. Vineland, Woodcock Johnson, IQ).
  • Complete an application for ADA accommodations with the Learning Services department. Meet with the ADA case manager to receive academic assistance.
  • Make arrangements for housing and transportation.

For more information regarding the Focused Skill Training program, contact:

Barbara Mussman
Disability Services Director
   Amanda Thompson
Academic Support Specialist