There is some evidence that certain treatments are helpful. Continue reading
According to a study by Harvard University, for the first time, it appears that increasing numbers of young adults on the autism spectrum are enrolling in college. Lisa Audet, a speech language pathologist who works at Kent State University, who has noticed the increase in the numbers of college bound autistic kids says, “This is a whole group that has been aging out of the high school realm and into college bound age and they have incredible strengths that need to be tapped and can really provide a service to the community and to society,” she explains.
The Harvard Review of Psychiatry study takes a closer look at the unmet needs of these students on the ASD spectrum who are now fixing their gaze on higher education. One of the biggest concerns in this area lies in the process of transitioning to a much more independent system of schooling. Looking at interviews of 20 successful college graduates with disabilities and surveys from the disability providers from their school revealed that a huge part of their success was attributed to the relationships students made with their disability services and faculty, tutoring centers and accommodations. The study suggests that integrating the existing strengths of the support systems already in place in high school for students with ASD would serve to help us figure out best practices, facilitate the transition process between high school and college, improve their academic outcomes and mental health, and overall contribute to a more positive college experience.
One student at Kent State, Nicholas Piazza, is a higher functioning individual with Asperger’s and has not missed a single class his freshman year. Currently his workload includes, intro to philosophy, algebra and trig, career navigation, chess club, and also works 25 hours a week. When asked about feeling different on campus he says, “I feel fine. I don’t really notice anything—if I told someone they wouldn’t even know I have it, because I sorta improved my social skills and everything else.” He says that he is considering a future as a math teacher.
Preparing students for school and higher education has alot to do with the resources that are available to them. Once schools start to realize that there is a growing population of students who need specific services in order to make them and their institutions successful, we should also begin seeing adjustments made in the services provided to disabled students. Also, building a strong foundation of interpersonal skills, like we do here at Shema-Kolainu, is a vital part of ensuring their future success especially in transitioning to young-adulthood and independence. To donate to Shema Kolainu and help us open our doors to more children as well as improve and build more resources, click here
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For the original Harvard study, click here
A student with special needs in the United States from grades K-12 receives individual therapies and support necessary to succeed in school. But what happens when the student graduates from high school? Unfortunately, many students with special needs or disabilities such as autism do not end up going to college. As the diagnosis of autism continues to increase, however, more and more institutions around the country are developing programs for these students.
Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti,Michigan, holds one of these opportunities. The Autism Collaborative Center offers students like 22-year-old Tony Saylor a graduate student to assist them with their coursework and better their college experience. This opportunity, for Saylor’s mother, has been a “godsend.”
Students with autism often struggle with staying focused during a class and maintaining the information. For Saylor, his method to succeed in processing the information is doodling, of which most of his professors are compliant. Many college programs also offer disability services, such as the University of Arizona, Lynn University in Florida, and Beacon College in Florida.
A catch-22 to this increase of options is that instead of parents struggling to find a program for their child, they now struggle with which program to send their child to. Unfortunately, many of these programs can burn a hole in the parents’ pockets, after already spending a hefty amount of out of pocket money on therapy services.
Still, the fact that more and more colleges are making it possible for students with autism and other developmental disabilities to attend is wonderful. For Tony Saylor, this really is a gift as he explains, “I knew I didn’t want to work in the fast food industry my whole life.” [i]
[i] “Daily News” More colleges provide options for kids with learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder. 16 Sept 2013. Web. < http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/new-college-options-kids-learning-disabilities-article-1.1457371>
A tree of hope is taking root in American colleges and universities. Autistic students have a garden of opportunities available to them. These programs help them to move beyond not only accommodating their disability, but achieving economic stability through earning a degree.
These options are sowing seeds of change into autistic students’ lives, and this change couldn’t have come at a better time.
According to the journal Pediatrics, “one-third of young people with autism spectrum disorders attended college in the first six years after high school.” Since “one in 88 children [has been] diagnosed with a disability on the autism spectrum, according to the advocacy group Autism Speaks,” those numbers may make up a significant portion of the college population.
Colleges and universities already have interventions in place to assist those students who are below level in reading, writing, and English language proficiency. Autistic students need accommodations, too.
Here is what’s available:
- Supplemental support programs for additional tuition
- Supplemental support from for-profit companies unaffiliated with colleges
- Expanding programs at institutions that have traditionally served students with disabilities to offer four-year degrees
- Improved programs within existing college disability programs that offer services for free
Supplemental support programs are on the rise, with one opening this fall atNovaSoutheasternUniversityinFloridathis fall.
Tony Saylor, a student atEasternMichiganUniversity, is benefitting from the college’s supplemental support program. The program assigns a graduate student to accompany him to his classes. His professors understand that his doodling enables him to process information. His artwork also serves another purpose: it is a collection of ideas for additional books in his self-published series on Viper Girl. Tony wants more for his life than fast food restaurant jobs; he desires to be self-sufficient.
But there may be some weeds to watch out for in this garden of educational opportunities. For-profit companies have great services, but they are at a high cost.
Some programs and services can cost $50,000 or more. Some colleges and universities advertise accommodations for students with disabilities in order to gain more money through additional tuition. When the autistic students enroll and begin classes, they soon learn that the institutions lack the necessary resources for them.
Tony Saylor has faced the situation before transferring toEasternMichiganUniversity. Previously, he attended another college that did not have resources to help him.
There are resources for autistic parents that will give them information about what kinds of programs are available at universities and colleges:
- College Autism Spectrum http://www.collegeautismspectrum.com
- ThinkCollege—College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities http://www.thinkcollege.net
- LandmarkCollege’s program http://www.landmark.edu/
- EasternMichiganUniversity’s program http://emich.edu/acc
- The K & W Guide to College Programs for Students With Learning Disabilities or AD/HD http://www.amazon.com/Programs-Disabilities-Attention-Hyperactivity-Admissions/dp/0307945073
- The Parent’s Guide to College for Students on the Autism Spectrum http://www.amazon.com/Parents-College-Students-Autism-Spectrum/dp/1934575895/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379340778&sr=1-2&keywords=colleges+for+autistic+students
The good news is colleges and universities are recognizing the growing need for better disability services. As other autistic students forge their path through higher learning, they can become landmarks to others who want to be trees of change.
*Pope, Justin. “New College Options for Students with Disabilities.” Albany Times Union. September 15, 2013. http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/New-college-options-for-students-with-disabilities-4814542.php
After you’ve enjoyed the cookouts and firework displays of Labor Day, the barbecue fumes begin to clear and reality sinks in. Summer is officially over.
No more days of laid-back, easy-breezy living. No more sleeping in late or bustling the kids to camps or other activities.
The school bells are ringing, and unfortunately there are more of those teachers’ dirty looks.
While the kids are in school, it is time to get your groove back.
They are off learning the fundamentals of the three R’s. Class is also in session for you. You have fundamentals to learn about autism. Not only do you need to find out more about the latest research or fun at-home activities, but also connect to others who deal with the same issues you face daily.
On MyAutismTeam Blog, Eric Peacock has compiled five helpful resources on autism that you can check out from your local library or download to your devices.
Three of the books are memoirs and personal stories by parents who have children with autism. The other two offer theoretical information and practical advice on different issues regarding autism.
As you are reading these resources, you can also get back into your groove by doing a little writing of your own. Even though it is early September, local stores still have school supplies such as composition books on sale. Grab a few and record the daily ins and outs of your life. Process your thoughts on what you have learned about autistic.
Be inspired to share your own experiences with others. When we share what we have learned and experienced, we help others fall back into the groove of life.
Start your fall reading now by checking out these resources on this website: http://blog.myautismteam.com/2012/04/03/5-great-autism-books-for-parents-to-read-share/
Check out other blog posts on the MyAutism Team Blog. It is a great resource with various practical tips for parents of autistic children, including 7 tips on how to keep the romance alive: http://blog.myautismteam.com/2012/11/28/7-tips-from-autism-parents-on-how-they-keep-the-romance-alive-with-their-spouses/
So what are you waiting for? As the old Dee Lite song goes, “the groove is in the blog.” Find yours in your parenting and other areas of your life today by doing some fall reading.
*Peacock, Eric. “Five Great Autism Books for Parents.” MyAutismTeam Blog. http://blog.myautismteam.com/2012/04/03/5-great-autism-books-for-parents-to-read-share/
Researchers at Vanderbilt University claim that a two foot tall robot named “Nao” could hold the key for helping treat thousands with autism spectrum disorder. A team of mechanical engineers and autism experts at Vanderbilt created an extensive system of cameras, sensors, and computers, of which Nao serves as a “front-man.”
Such systems are intended to help children to focus their attention on both other people and objects in their environment. This fundamental social skill is called “joint attention” — the inability to master it is a hallmark of autism, and this can escalate to a variety of learning difficulties as children age.
Researchers decided that a robotic system held great potential in working with young children, and proceeded to build an “intelligent environment” around Nao, a commercial humanoid robot made in France. In this environment, the robot stands at a table facing the room. Flat panel displays are attached to the side walls; the child sits facing the front of the room, and is at eye-level with the robot. The room holds a number of web cameras aimed at the chair, which tracks the child’s head movements. To facilitate tracking, children in the study wore a baseball cap equipped with LED lights allowing the computer to see where they are looking.
Nao is programmed with a series of prompts, such as “look over here” accompanied by gestures, such as looking and pointing at one of the displays which imitate prompts and gestures used by human therapists in joint attention training. If the initial verbal prompt is ignored, then the therapist provides increased support by combining a verbal prompt with a physical gesture, then responding with praise if the child looks at the target.
The children’s engagement with the robot was highly promising, as evidenced by a number of test groups consisting of 2-to 5-year old children. It is stressed that the robotic system is not intended to replace human therapists, but to supplement their efforts. A robot could be highly useful in supplying the repeated practice efforts that are so critical to learning.