After my son graduated from high school, the two of us (it’s truly a joint effort) worked REALLY hard to transition from high school to the world of adulthood, a scary and exciting place with no road signs.

So many parents describe the time after high school, when they no longer can rely on schools to support their kids, as falling off the cliff. I want to help parents take A Great Leap over that cliff. It can be done.

This newsletter discusses the lessons that I’ve learned while moving my son with Level One autism from high school to adulthood. Because I’m a former college professor, I figured out how to “hack” the community college to work for him. I toured college programs for people with autism, studying the disability support system, explored social groups for young adults, and more.

And now I’m going to share that information with you. I’ll tell my own war stories and help new parents learn the ropes. Topics will include:

  • Why you should not let your child graduate from high school?

  • What’s an 18-21 year program?

  • What life skills should you promote at home?

  • The bursars office, syllabus, office hours and other key terms that your student needs to know

  • How do you write an email to a professor?

  • What is the office of specialized services and what can they do for you?

A Great Leap now offers a mix of free and paid newsletter. With a subscription, you’ll support my writing and learn stuff.

Nobody prepares you for what’s waiting after high school, if you’re a parent of a special needs kid. But I’ll tell all.


Laura McKenna, PhD is an autism and education advocate with over 30 years of experience in education policy. With a PhD in Political Science with a specialty in education policy, she has held faculty positions at Columbia Teachers’ College, Ramapo College, and Hunter College. She writes about education and autism for the nation’s top newspapers and magazines, including The AtlanticUSA Today, and Edutopia. Locally, she organizes bowling trips for young men with autism and runs a Facebook page for over 800 parents, teachers, and the community in Ridgewood, NJ. She is also the parent of a 21-year with autism. 

She is the CEO and founder of The Autism College Connection — a new business that supports parents with the transition process. I offer webinars, newsletters, and private consultation services. Sign up for that free newsletter here.

Her publications about autism include:

Her publications about higher education include:

Dr. McKenna’s professional website is here.

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From Autism to Adult


Education, politics, families. Past: journalism, pol sci professor, PhD, teacher, researcher, mom, and secretary in a solenoid valve factory.