Episode #86 Interview with Eric Endlich, Ph.D., founder of Top College Consultants®

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Eric Endlich, Ph.D., founder of Top College Consultants®, helps autistic students worldwide transition to college. His extensive list of autism-friendly colleges is popular among families and education professionals. An experienced clinical psychologist, Dr. Endlich is on the advisory board of the Asperger/Autism Network and the Learning Differences/Neurodiversity Committee of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. A frequent conference presenter and regular contributor to blogs such as CollegeXpress, Dr. Endlich has co-written a new book, Older Autistic Adults, In Their Own Words. He has taught undergraduate and graduate psychology courses at Boston College, Tufts University, Suffolk University and UMass/Boston. Connect with Dr. Endlich and Top College Consultants on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, or join the Facebook group he co-manages, Parents of College Bound Students with Learning Disabilities, ADHD and ASD.

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Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we have another very special guest. We've got Mr. Eric Anlage. He is with the top college consultants.com services. Welcome to the show. Thank you for taking time to be here today.

Thank you. It's my pleasure.

So Eric, Eric, could you tell our listeners a little bit about your background, maybe how you got started with top college consultant?

Sure. So I'm a clinical psychologist by training, and I've worked as a therapist for many years, I'm also a special needs parent, I have a son on the spectrum. And, you know, having been in the autism world for for many years. And then then I discovered it at a certain point, you know, the field of educational consulting, and I had worked with some teens on the spectrum who went off to college and did not thrive because they, they didn't get the support they needed. So I really wanted to kind of figure out how to prevent that from happening. So I started working with students exclusively, to make sure that they get the support they need in college, make sure they're ready for college so that they have a successful experience.

That is amazing. And so needed in this community. I know, as our students transition into college, there are so many unknowns, and so many variables that parents really need assistance with as long as the students as well as the students. Not very much, can you please share with us how our families can find you online? And what it is that you would recommend for them? Or where should they start?

Yeah, well, as far as finding the I mean, if you Googled college and autism, you probably find my website pretty quickly. It's top college consultants.com. Or you can email me at Eric E. Ric at top college consultants.com. And, you know, I realized that most families don't hire consultants, most families just, you know, do the college process on their own or with the help of their high school counselor, and not everybody can afford to hire a consultant. So that's one reason that I put a lot of information on my website. To make the process easier. I've created a list of autism friendly colleges, especially colleges that have autism support programs, a lot of families don't even know that that exists, that some colleges, including Clemson, which you mentioned, when we were chatting earlier, have programs specifically for autistic students to support them. So I've gotten lots of webinars and articles on my website that folks can access for free, I'm not fishing for your email address or anything. So if you're just looking to learn more, that's one option. Another thing is, I co administer a Facebook Facebook group called parents of college bound students with learning disabilities, ADHD and ASD, you can also find a link to that on my website or email me to get the actual link because it's a very long name. But that's well over 1000 families, connecting sharing ideas, you know, people saying, Hey, have you ever had a student go to this college? Or how are you dealing with this challenge with your school district. So it's a great opportunity for families to learn from each other, again, for free. But if people are looking for, you know, that higher level of support to guide them in the college search to make sure their kids complete their applications that they find the right Gap Year program or support program, then I'm happy to talk to them. Consider working with them.

Dr. Anlage? What What would you say maybe is like a common tipping point for families and students to realize that they maybe need that extra help from a consultant. And then I look at kind of a two part question here. And then the second part is, when you're kind of vetting colleges, beyond just having a autism specific or, you know, disability specific program, what are some of the other things to look for?

Great questions. Gosh, that could be our whole time just talking about those two questions. So I think what happens with some families is they start doing the work on their own or they start consulting their high school counselor. And high school counselors are great folks dedicated I love meeting with them and touring colleges with them. But they often have several 100 students in their caseload. Whereas, you know, I may only work with, you know, a dozen 1520 students, so if they feel like they're not getting the individual attention they need if they're not able to find someone who's familiar with these programs, or really can assess whether their child's ready for college or what type of supports they might need prior to college. I really want to see kids becoming college ready while they're in high school ideally. So I'm coaching families on you know, How to kind of help their kids acquire those skills during high school or right before college. So those would be some of the things that might tip them. Or if they just feel overwhelmed, you know, I've got a full time job, I don't have time to be my my kids college consultant also, in this is my full time job. I travel around the country in 2019, toured over 50 colleges, you know, most people don't have the time to do that. So. So that would be the answer to your first question. And can you repeat the second question for me?

Yeah, absolutely. So like, beyond colleges, maybe having like an autism specific program, like I know, here in Washington, or in the Seattle area, we have the navigators program in Bellevue College, which is, like really awesome. But beyond that, like, what would be something to look for? And just, you know, general, like Disability Resource Center,

or Yeah, so? That's, that's a great question. I do have some stuff on my website about that, like, an article on questions to ask a disability senator, and things to think about when you're transitioning to college with any disability, I work with kids with other challenges to not just autism. So, one key thing is, is to be thinking about this stuff. When you're doing the college search. Don't wait until you've gotten into college, and you've chosen your college and you put down your deposit and then say, Okay, let's go find out what their disability services are. Because what if they're not adequate? What if you don't like them? So I say when you're making those appointments to do the tours, whether it's virtual or in person, also talk to someone in the disability services office? And you know, ask them some of the tough questions. How many staff do you have? What's their background? How many students do you serve? With diagnosis like my child's and you offer the following accommodations that my child is used to getting in high school, or that they're hoping that they can get in college? What additional services do you have? So, you know, do that research upfront? And obviously, not all students on the spectrum need an autism support program? Not all of them need a ton of disability accommodations? But if you do, if you want to do that research, and I would also look at, you know, what is the culture of the college? Is it inclusive? Is it welcoming? And that is not something you can like easily figure out on the website, it's not sort of a black or white fact. But you can talk to alumni, you can talk to current students, you can, you know, look at reviews, talk to their parents, like on the Facebook group that I mentioned, really get a sense of, you know, is this a place where students are thriving, or are they feeling marginalized? And and I really want to, you know, I'm hoping we can move our society to the point where you don't even need special support programs, because all colleges and all workplaces are inclusive, and I just wrote an article called truly inclusive admissions, because that's really the vision that I'm, I'm hoping for.

Well, I would love to read that article. If you can send us the link to that, then we can absolutely share that with our listeners in the show notes as well. Thanks. You're welcome. Is there anything else at all that you would like to share with our listeners today?

Um, just that, you know, your child will continue to develop and progress and don't give up, you might get discouraging messages from other people in the picture. And if you believe your child has the capability to go on to college, then keep at it and keep doing the research. And, you know, if it doesn't happen this year, maybe it's a couple of years down the line, or maybe it's a slow start with a couple of online courses or community college, it's, it doesn't. If your child's not ready for primetime for full time, you know, four year college, that doesn't mean they can't get started in some fashion. Also, you can start through dual enrollment by taking college courses while you're still in high school. And then there are also programs for students with intellectual disability, who can't handle the academic rigor of college but still want a college campus experience that are programs for those students to

now where can everyone find your information online?

Again, top college consultants.com. And, or if you Google college autism, if you've totally forget that and you're just looking college for my student is on the spectrum or college for students with Asperger's. You'll probably find my website fairly quickly

to great information about navigating the college admission process and where parents should get started with their students. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today. Dr. Atlas.

Thanks, Tasha, Chris, great speech.

Let's Discuss!

Now, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?

Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

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