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UI REACH: A Postsecondary Program Serving Students with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities


Across the United States postsecondary education (PSE) options for young adults with autism and intellectual disabilities (ID) are emerging as a result of parent-professional advocacy group actions and legislation such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA). In this article the University of Iowa Realizing Educational and Career Hopes (UI REACH) Program, a thriving, well-integrated two year certificate program is described. We discuss the UI REACH model—its mission, student-centered and program goals, and strategies employed to ensure quality, sustainability, and continuous improvement. The student population, curriculum, staffing needs, and day-to-day operating issues are described. The experiences and perceptions of 14 students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suggest that the program facilitates a positive campus living-learning experience for these students. Challenges and recommendations for institutions of higher education considering developing, or in the early stages of developing, similar programs are presented.

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