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Nov 11, 2016 06:53 AM EST

Hill Top Preparatory School's Unique Program Prepares Students with Autism for College


Autism greatly affects one's ability to interact with others, as well as one's ability to learn. To help students with autism prepare for the challenges of college, a school in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, offers a one-of-a-kind training that actually works.

Hill Top Preparatory School in Rosemont offers the all-year boarding program where college-bound students get the social training they need for college life, reports Philly. There, students with autism learn to live away from family during Mondays to Fridays, only going home on weekends.

"It was tough at first, living in a new environment with different people," Joseph Brennan, a 19-year-old student at Hill Top. "But we learned to adapt and make the best of it."

Hill Top Prep, a nonprofit institution founded in 1971, believes that with a strong collaboration between the school and a student's family, any student with autism can be prepared for success in college, work, and in their lives. Ninety percent of its graduates are able to enter college.

Thomas Needham, current Headmaster at Hill Top Prep, said in a message that students with autism don't necessarily have problems with basic language-related skills such as reading and spelling. They do, however, have another set of difficulties.

"One of the things they struggle with is being successful socially," Needham said.

To help them cope with and learn how to adjust to people, students enrolled in Hill Top Prep's boarding program live together in the school's property, and are given tasks such as washing their own dishes and fixing their own beds. They are also being trained to handle stress, respect others, and observe their boundaries.

"They're working on how do you live in a positive way with others," Needham said

Hill Top Prep also aims to teach students soft skills needed for jobs, such as starting and maintaining conversations with others over simple things like coffee, to asking others about how they are doing.

Going to college might be difficult for students with autism, but with the help of Hill Top Preparatory School's unique program, it just might become easier and more manageable.

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