The number of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s and other nonverbal learning disabilities is increasing each year as K-12 services improve and students set higher goals for themselves. These students are college-capable, but their disability presents some challenges to success on a college campus. ASD/Asperger’s students often have poor or awkward social interaction skills, communication difficulties, academic challenges and mental health issues. The campus can sometimes be an unfriendly or uncompassionate place for students with social and communication difficulties, and many end up in the counseling center seeking support for depression and anxiety.
But what if we could change the campus to make it a more welcoming environment? What if we could educate staff beyond the counseling center and disabilities office to better understand what it is they’re seeing when they interact with students on the Autism Spectrum? What if resident advisors, orientation leaders and student organization leaders had brief, intensive training about students on the Spectrum and how they can better serve these students? What if faculty had at least a passing familiarity with a more and more commonly-occurring diagnosis on our campuses? Awareness coupled with compassion helps create the kind of environment that leads to success for all students, including those with autism.
Participants in this briefing will:
- understand the college and national landscapes for students with autism;
- increase familiarity with autism, related diagnoses and common characteristics;
- be able to apply this knowledge to provide programs and services that will be more inclusive of students with autism; and
- increase confidence to interact with students with autism.