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College Students with Autism at Tennessee


But there aren’t that many students here at UT with an Autism Spectrum Disorder you say…

Most of us have seen or heard about the TV character named Sheldon on the show “Big Bang Theory” that presents a popular caricature of a very bright young adult who likely meets the criteria for an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The show presents a very comical and upbeat view of some of the challenges that Sheldon, and his roommates/colleagues face. However, there are some other challenges that college students on the Autism Spectrum face that aren’t even touched on that TV show, and those challenges can cause some significant difficulties for students in college.

There are students here at the University of Tennessee who are like him, but there are other students here who are definitely not like him, but still fall on the Autism Spectrum.

These students are enrolled in degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate programs, and the vast majority of these students are not disabled, but they are unique and have unique challenges and needs.

Research suggests that anywhere from .7% to 1.9% of students enrolled in higher education meet, or could meet, the criteria to be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Those percentages still sound so small though, right?

Let’s translate those percentages into real numbers here at the University of Tennessee. Our most recent published enrollment figures (2017) puts us at 28,321 total students…so let’s do some math.

At the University of Tennessee, that prevalence range (.7-1.9%) suggests that somewhere between 198 and 538 students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program meet, or could meet, the diagnostic criteria as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

That’s a lot of students.

This large group of students have unique needs and are at a much higher risk of not completing their degrees than the general student population.

And that’s a problem.

…follow along as we continue to talk more about college students with Autism, especially here at UT; hopefully, we can shed some light on the challenges and how we can help.

For more information, please contact us at or 865-974-6177.