This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a graduate student at Seton Hall University, and is actively involved with our college program. Autism Speaks U is an initiative designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.
Below are 11 questions students on the autism spectrum can ask their college/university.
1. As a college student affected by autism, what is one of the main things I need to know?
A big difference between college and high school is that in high school you generally have a structured plan for your accommodations called an “Individualized Education Program.” However, in college that no longer exists, meaning you must advocate to your Disability Support Group on campus to receive your own accommodations
2. What are some accommodations I can receive in my classes?
Individuals on the spectrum receive accommodations only if they register with their Disability Support Group. They will then receive accommodations based on their needs. This can include extended time on tests, tape recorders for classes, individual note takers, etc.
3. Do I have to pay for accommodations?
Under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, colleges are required to provide all learning disabled individuals with “reasonable accommodations.” However, you should check the guidelines in regards to what is and what is not available on your campus.
4. Will faculty or fellow students be informed that I am on the autism spectrum?
Faculty members are not allowed to disclose any information about a student to others without consent from the student. However, students must register as a “disabled student” to receive accommodations – meaning your disability support group would be aware you have a disability. It is then up to you to inform your instructors.
5. Is on-campus living for me?
Accommodations can also factor into your living arrangements on campus which will give you opportunities for a safer environment, like a single room. Ask if your resident assistant will be made aware of your living situation, since he/she can be of help in an emergency.
6. Will tutoring be available for my courses?
Most colleges provide tutoring for all students, but it is important to learn about those services early on to see if it is available and if you need additional support.
7. Are there any restrictions on how many courses I can take?
Some disability support groups require you take less courses in your first few semesters of college to make for an easier transition.
8. Is there a club on campus that raises awareness about autism and provides social opportunities for students affected by autism?
Autism Speaks college program, Autism Speaks U, works with students across the county to start chapters that raise awareness and funds. Some also establish mentoring programs for students and youth on the autism spectrum. To see if a chapter exists on your campus, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.
9. Will my professors have any previous training in educating individuals affected by autism?
There is no requirement at most college for professors to have education in teaching individuals with learning disabilities. You should be prepared to advocate for yourself when a situation deems itself appropriate to do so.
10. Will I be treated differently by fellow students because I have autism?
Like in any other situation where you are around people, there is the possibility of a lack of awareness on their part in dealing with people with learning disabilities. Therefore, spreading awareness is crucial for you and others affected by autism.
11. Is there anything on campus that focuses on post-college plans for individuals affected by autism?
Many colleges have a career program/center that focuses on helping you network with outside companies. You can also look under the Americans with Disabilities Act for information about job accommodations and workshops.
If you are interested in raising awareness on your college campus visit www.AutismSpeaks.org/U.
Autism Speaks U, an initiative of Autism Speaks that works with college students across the country, recently interviewed students about autism and the results were incredible. It showed that their involvement with Autism Speaks U is critical in spreading awareness on campus and in the community! Watch the video on What is Autism.
From this video, emerged our “What Does Autism Mean To You” series where college students share their perspective on autism. This post is by Daniel Grieves, a Senior at Towson University majoring in Strategic Public Relations under the feed of Mass Communication. Daniel has autism and is involved with the Center for Adults with Autism on campus and serves as a spokesperson for their organization.
I believe that autism is only a barrier. Students on the autism spectrum should not consider this barrier as a wall they cannot break down. They should consider it as something more easily penetrated.
What I mean is that a person with autism can overcome their shortcomings, no matter how large they may be. They are able to use their interests or goals to work beyond their problems and can do very well in certain types of subjects. An autistic student might do better with writing papers, working with computers, or solving math problems than many of his or her peers.
People with autism still need support from people who care about them as well as services that are beneficial for them to achieve these goals. However, this is not easy to do especially with how most mass media forms treat the concept of autism and the fact that many people do not have a good understanding of what autism really is. By increasing awareness of what people on the spectrum are really like and what they are capable of, we can truly join together to take down that “barrier” that emotionally divides us people who have autism from people who don’t.
My advice for autistic students of all ages: Do not let your autism get the best of you. You can live your dreams as long as people are willing to help you get through and you try hard on all of your studies. If you think you will fail because of your autism, chances are you will fail. However, if you believe in succeeding and rising above your autism, you will have a better life.
Just remember my personal slogan: autism is only a disability if you make it a disability.
If you are college student and would like your “What Does Autism Mean To You” story featured on the Autism Speaks blog, please send it to AutismSpeaksU@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.
This guest post is by Asia Bartlett, a junior at the University of Georgia studying Special Education. She is very passionate about supporting the autism community and is an Autism Speaks U student leader. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.
Hey fellow autism advocates! While I personally do not have family members on the autism spectrum, those affected by autism have captured my heart in ways that I cannot describe. I had my first experience with a child with autism as a junior in high school and I watched as he began to slowly develop. When he said his first word to me after months of silence when I had been with him, I instantly knew where my passion lay. I decided in that moment that I was dedicating my time and energy from there on out to children and families affected by autism.
I am in my second year as the Executive Director of AutismUGA, an autism awareness organization on campus started just three short years ago in Athens. In our three years on campus, we have raised nearly $20,000 benefiting Northeast Georgia families affected by autism. A portion of our fundraising is annually donated to Autism Speaks in Atlanta and our organization is considering dual enrollment with Autism Speaks U.
Over the years, our club holds an annual “Presidential Spelling Bee” where the Presidents of on-campus organizations compete for their organization to raise money for families in Northeast Georgia affected by autism. We also organize our own annual Walk for Autism which includes a resource fair for parents and a kid’s zone complete with stations ranging from crafts to music therapy to a bounce house! Once a month we host Get REAL Saturdays at a local elementary school and parents meet for a support group while we play games and activities with the children.
This November our organization held our first annual dart tournament in downtown Athens. The event was a huge success and benefited Autism Speaks! With approximately 200 attendees and over forty pairs entering the tournament, we raised close to $1,500 in our first attempt at this type of event! The school paper ran an article about our organization and flyers were placed all around campus. Students and community members were able to pre-register on the Autism Speaks U website up until the day of the event which made collecting entry fees a breeze for us. We are so excited about the buzz our dart tournament created on campus and we have had multiple people tell us they can’t wait to participate in the event again next year. We had prizes such as footballs autographed by the Dawgs, local gift certificates and even a bar tab for the winners (it’s a college town out here, so people were pretty excited!).
In 2011, we have big things planned including a “Parent’s Night Out” where members of our organization will be babysitting so that parents can take a night off. We’ll continue our traditions of the Spelling Bee, our Walk and REAL Saturdays while adding some great awareness events on campus like an awareness week we have planned around World Autism Awareness Day.
We are headed into the Spring semester with a newly elected Executive Board and a lot of passion for the upcoming year! You can learn more about AutismUGA and our awareness efforts on our facebook page and our blog, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are involved with Autism Speaks U on your campus and would like your story to be featured on the Autism Speaks blog, please send it to AutismSpeaksU@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.