Moving from Surviving to Thriving

College isn’t just a place to learn. It’s where you’ll find a community filled with new people and have new experiences. It’s where you’ll make friends for life and learn important lessons about yourself. It’s where you’ll go to reach new heights.” – Common App website

This quote from the Common Application’s website represents the hopes and dreams of almost every family sending children off to college. The wish that the four years in college will be a transformative life experience. We picture our children on the college quad, tossing a frisbee, laughing with friends as they plan fun activities for the weekend. And our children go off with these same visions dancing in their heads. So why is it that for many students, especially those with autism, the dream college experience never materializes? Enter the wellness continuum.

The concept of wellness and the wellness continuum was first introduced by in the 1970s by John Travis. You can learn more about Travis’ work here. In summary, wellness is “holistic health” that extends beyond a mere lack of physical illness to include concepts such as mental, emotional, and social well-being. On the wellness continuum, zero is the mid-point and represents “normal functioning” or surviving. If a person is at this mid-point, their basic physical and psychological health needs have been met and they can get through their basic daily activities. The negative side of the continuum represents “dysfunction.” Individuals can progress from the negative to the mid-point by addressing mental and physical health impairments. At the mid-point they are surviving. The goal, however, is to function on the positive side of the continuum: thriving.

Thriving, not surviving, is what the Common App quote describes. While most students head off to college with the skills to survive, many are not equipped to thrive. This is especially true for autistic students because success in social and emotional areas are traditionally more challenging for autistic young adults. And it is that exact shift that tips the balance from surviving to thriving.

What can you do now to boost your high school student’s chances of thriving at college and having that true transformative experience? Invest in the exploration and development of college readiness skills with custom packages from Spectrum Transition Coaching now.