Autism gets redefined for profs, campus admin

For example, Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y, a university which has one of the most comprehensive programs in the country, charges $2,620 per semester—on top of tuition.

Fees for Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) Autism Collaborative Center (ACC) program, which can be very intensive, range from $4,500 to $7,500 a semester. Others are less expensive, including Colorado State University’s, which costs $1,500 a semester.

These programs offer additional services for ASD students, including services for meetings with students, accompanying them to class, planning for assignments, feeling at ease socially, and helping some students to eat and shower regularly.

“Just getting the kids to the college level can require a tremendous investment of time, money and effort, explained ACC’s program directors to Diverse Education, “and with those extra fees, poor and minority kids can be left behind. High schools in poor neighborhoods may [also] have fewer services, leaving students unprepared to go to college.”

Yet, according to Lauren Kelley, manager of First Year Experience (FYE) and former director of professional development at Owens Community College, helping students with autism, at least in class, can be as simple as trying and listening.

After helping one student in a class diagnosed with autism, she helped another, with a completely new set of challenges, just by asking them how she could help.

No student asked for ‘unreasonable’ treatment, noted Kelley, including being able to write questions down on paper, or having extra patience if a distraction occurred.

“When I am challenged or frustrated by an ASD student, I remind myself that everything is challenging for them and I should be thankful to have the opportunity to help them learn and progress,” said Kelley. “I have been so fortunate to learn about ASD, how others think and give the gift of higher education to students that may have never been afforded the opportunity,” due to what Kelley admits are “appalling lack of supports and available resources for ASD students on campuses.”

For Kelley’s case studies on her experiences with ASD students, read here.

(Next page: 8 tips for faculty and campus offices)

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