More Autistic Students Sharing in the College Experience
> 11/6/2006 4:18:33 PM

At first glance it might seem illogical for students with even mildcases of autism to become involved in higher education - the popularbelief is that they simply lack the mental and social capacity for sucha demanding environment. But these very students are attending Americancolleges in ever-increasing numbers, and many schools must adapt toaccomodate them and the unique challenges they present.
Autismcan be a crippling condition for patients and loved ones, but many whosuffer from it also have above-average or exceptional intellect, oftenleading to higher performance in specific fields of interest. Many ofthese students are academically qualified to attend college,but have difficulty adapting to the necessary changes in lifestyle. Therepetitive tics and difficulties in communication that accompany autismcan compromise the learning environment of other students, yet youngadults with Asperger's syndrome,a mild form of autism, have long attended college successfully. Thosein the field speak of autistic professors and students singularlydevoted to technical subjects like mathematics and engineering. Due togreater knowledge and gradually receding social stigma, many morestudents with some form of spectrum disorder can attend school withoutmuch of the fear and isolation that set them apart before. Still,standard disability programs usually do not work for these cases, andschools are not knowledgable enough to make proper arrangements.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Actof 1975 affords specific funds to states in order to offer equalacademic opportunities to students with one or more disabilities.Though the act applied at the time of its passage to children in publicschool, the scope has widened over thirty years to include higher ed.While it covers the right of all students to an equal education, itcannot address the more pressing problems facing the autisticcommunity, many of which are social and emotional in nature. Moststandard counselors do not have the time or training to assist thesestudents, and some hire individual specialists, but their services canbe very expensive and they often do not provide the day-to-day guidanceso sorely needed. In response to these issues, some colleges have hiredspecially trained staff members and others encourage other students tohelp those with disorders to better adapt to their surroundings. Ofcourse, such measures could have the unintended effect of furthersetting these kids apart when they need to be seen without judgement orprejudice by their peers.

When facing such challenges, college administrators must often make difficult decisionsabout where to draw the line between institutional help and theunlimited personal services that many parents and students desire.While many schools wrestle with the topic, online doctors offer advice to functioning autistic students who are either considering or preparing to attend college. The web also features multiple sites where people with Asperger's or autismcan find community and better understand their own conditions. Major,often difficult adjustments are a necessary growing pain felt by everycollege student, but those with some form of spectrum disorder face asteeper climb than most, and increased public awareness of andsensitivity to these conditions is the most crucial element ofultimately satisfying their educational needs.


I am interested in knowing if there are specfic colleges or universities in the US that offer programs for autisic students. If so, could you please list them.
Posted by: Elise May 2/15/2007 10:51:26 AM

I would like to know about colleges in the mid-atlantic region that offer programs fora highly creative autistic or learning learning disabled student
Posted by: sophgirl 10/6/2007 3:02:21 AM

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