Summer opportunities for college student with Aspergers
February 1, 2019 8:59 AM   Subscribe

My son doesn't have anything lined up for this coming summer, the one before his senior year. He has come into a bit of money which would enable him to afford do some kind of summer program so he's not sitting around working some part-time, low-paying job and the rest of the time glued to his screen, gaming. I'd love him to have the opportunity to gain skills, network, learn more about the world, and get off his butt.

I'm not sure of resources we can use to find such a program. Going abroad would not work (anxiety, food issues, etc.), but something in the United States. Maybe a volunteer program? Internships? (He's studying film.) I think something like Outward Bound would be way too anxiety-provoking and physically difficult for him. I just don't even know how to google this. I would love suggestions for how to search or for specific programs.
posted by primate moon to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't mention your son's career plans, but FWIW the junior-to-senior-year internship is a very critical contributor to the employability of college graduates. If he can manage it, then using the money to support himself while interning or doing a job-adjacent volunteer gig would likely have higher longterm returns than paying tuition for any sort of structured program.

IME students at that age are often pretty rigid and unrealistic in their thinking about how college majors connect up to careers (for example, 80%+ of the film majors I've met sincerely believe that they will go on to be Hollywood screenwriters; I have yet to meet one who's bothered to look up how one gets a screenwriting job, or what the ratio is of available industry jobs: film studies graduates). For that reason, before settling on an internship, it might make sense to encourage him to do a round or two of informational interviews to explore what's out there for people in his field. If his school has a career office or an alumni database, those are two good places to track down potential connections who would be open to talking with someone in his position.
posted by Bardolph at 9:17 AM on February 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

"Summer Camp for Aspergers Teen" is a broad starting search term. As is, "transition to college aspergers." Those may not be exactly what you are looking for but they can identify organizations, etc. who might have options.

There are often state-specific activitie. For instance, Montana has 1-2 programs where students live on a college campus for three days to a week. The University of Washington has an amazing two-week summer program my godson with Aspergers went to, first as an attendee and then as a mentor. But those programs can be restricted to residents of that state.

Let me see what I can find in your state - my bureaucratic skills can possibly help you refine your search or give you some leads.

(Also, I know this isn't what you asked about there are some good transition resources here:

I have never figured out how to link here.)
posted by ITravelMontana at 1:46 PM on February 1, 2019

Bardolph's advice is excellent. However, more in the spirit of your original question, what does he like? What are his interests? This will go a lot better if you can suggest things that are in line with his preferences (or his desire for a successful career, if you take something more like Bardolph's strategy) than if you just pick something that you think will get him off his butt. After all he's an adult, and at the end of the day it's up to him how he chooses to spend his summer.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:33 PM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I was not clear: he's a junior in college, 21 years old. I'm not looking for summer camp, but more in the line of an extracurricular that will add to his resume and various life skills, and maybe in his specific field of interest, which is film (no specialty at all yet).
posted by primate moon at 3:31 PM on February 1, 2019

If he's willing he may be a great candidate for a camp counselor for one of the aforementioned programs that help non neurotypical kids transition to college.

Activities such as filmmaking can be a part of the job, because keeping kids engaged (aside from the biggest duty which is the logistics of keeping a bunch of teenagers out of trouble). It is a job that requires alot of responsibility, independence and looks better than some other jobs. He'd also would be a role model for people like him which is super cool thing to do I think.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:25 PM on February 1, 2019

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