Picture this: you’re in your high school cafeteria when you step on a ketchup packet. It explodes and you pick it up to throw it away, but are left with the residue all over your hand. You look around for a napkin or a place to clean it off, and the closest thing you find is a jacket. So you use the jacket and the next thing you know… you’re getting punched in the face.
That’s exactly what happened to 17 year old Joseph Galloway, but he did not know his actions were inappropriate, as he is diagnosed with autism and has a lot of social anxiety. Extremely gifted, Joseph is now part of theMarshallUniversityAutismTrainingCenter, which started in 2002 from a donation from Larry Austin, whose son was diagnosed as well. The center is funded by the state, and serves as a great aid for its students. Each student has a graduate student serving as a mentor, making sure they are keeping up with their class work, and improving their social skills. The University’sAutismTrainingCenteris the oldest program in the country to award college degrees to people with high functioning autism.MarshallUniversityhas been serving those with disabilities for years, starting with physical disabilities.
For parents like Joseph’s mother, Laura Beth Galloway, the center truly is a safe haven,
“You have to surround your child with people who see his value and see his strengths and weaknesses. He’s always going to have to have a go-to person who will understand his disability, but I really feel like the sky’s the limit for Joseph if he has the right employer and the right supports.”[i]
Students receive tools such as pictorial schedules to help them plan their days, and the chance to socialize with other students to improve their social skills. Marshall University’s Autism Training Center serves as a tool to help those with high functioning autism receive a proper college education.
[i] “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette” At Marshall University, students with autism can find a haven. 09 Oct 2013. Web. < http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/health/marshall1009roth39-706805/>