An Assessment of Personal Readiness for College with ASD

In a previous blog I wrote about the topic of readiness within higher education to support college students with Asperger’s Disorder. The series touched on the ability of colleges to provide effective academic, social, and independent living supports. The “Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Asperger’s Disorder,” a tool to assess readiness of a specific institution, was provided.

But how can individual ASD students know that they are ready for college?

Support For Off-Campus Travel for College Students with ASD

Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Note: With Spring Break fast approaching….we felt this informative blog by Dr. Marc Ellison was relative (even though written about the holiday season) as college students with ASD make their travel plans. – Aspergers101

Welcome to the holiday season! The season is one of change, for a variety of reasons. The arrival of the holidays announces the coming of cooler weather for most of the U.S., begins a time of travel, and signals the end of the calendar year. The holidays are a time of change for college students, too. Most students who have been living full-time on campus since summer will be traveling back and forth between home and their dorms multiple times within a few short weeks.

Support For OffCampus TravelOff-campus travel can be complicated. Travel by rail can be rife with delays. Bus travel can be time consuming. And those traveling by air frequently encounter challenges due to cancelled flights and the navigation of multiple airports.

The Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (2012) is an assessment tool with which to determine the readiness of specific institutions of higher learning to support the academic, social, and independent living needs of students living within the autism spectrum.

How I Overcome Obstacles with ASD and Steps How You Can as Well

by: Maverick Crawford III

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder with a range of conditions characterized by challenges with speech communication, non-verbal communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors. The word “spectrum” refers to a wide range of differences, challenges, and strength each person with autism has. Studies show that 1 in 88 children will develop autism, and it is the fastest growing disability nationwide. With this statistic, it is important for school officials, doctors, counselor, parents or anyone to fully understand the overall needs of children with autism. Adults with autism make up about 1.7% of the college population with an 80% incompletion rate. The main reason for these numbers is that most colleges, unfortunately, do not understand how to accommodate the needs of students on the spectrum.

Challenges facing those with Autism:

  1. Organization problems: College students on the mild end of the spectrum may tend to misunderstand social and communication cues. When it comes to a student with Autism either living independently or with family, can struggle because it more responsibilities all at once can cause an overload. The duties of managing homework, job, independent living, maintain health, meetups for group projects can all be overwhelming with trying to plan and organize it.
  1. Self-Advocacy: The main shocker for high school to college transition is that it is up to you to convey your needs. In grade school, you parent, teachers, and counselors decided and advocated your educational needs. Once the child becomes a teenager (high school age), they are allowed to sit in their IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), but they do not fully understand their accommodations. Most colleges do not require IEP’S, but they do require the students to understand and advocate for their needs.

Autism Does Not Define Him

Our son Sam is now 22 years old. Together we have discovered Autism first from a stage of confusion, then diagnosis and ultimately the journey toward understanding and adjustment.  This journey hasn’t been taken by just Sam or me. The education and life-changing decisions included our family of four and those whose chose to remain linked to us either by love or simple curiosity. Autism became us. As we learned to navigate the education system, employment and higher education, we’ve taken you along.

Through our website Aspergers101, together we have reached for stories of enlightenment and searched to navigate our next stage in life. Now at age 22, driving and nearing college graduation, Sam has reached a personal plateau that bares sharing. With an absolute delivery he declared, “Autism does not define me”.  He further went on to explain that up til now, he would introduce himself to educators, peers or the seldom few who initiate conversation as “Hi I am Sam…and I have autism.” He felt he owed them an ‘explanation’ for his social awkwardness, his lack of eye contact or his seemingly bland behavior.

Self-Determination in College Success with Aspergers

Several break-out sessions of the annual Autism Society conference in Indianapolis, Indiana were focused on the support of students with ASD in higher education.

Beautiful female graduate

Dena Gassner (Adelphi University), Dr. Lorna Timmerman (Ball State University), and Jackie Clark and Rebecca Hansen (Marshall University) carried out a panel discussion on the topic, titled “Is College for Me.” Panel members discussed challenges related to success for students with ASD in higher education, and best-practice support strategies that can help overcome challenges.

Communicating Strengths and Needs in College

Writing a requested accommodations letter to your professors

Whether or not a student should formally disclose an autism spectrum disorder to disability support staff at a college or university is a personal decision one should make after thoughtful consideration. It is my opinion, however, that students have the potential for a better college experience when they provide faculty with information that improves the ability of the instructor to communicate with the student and accommodate his or her academic and social needs.

Using Choice to Increase Academic Success

We at Marshall University have found that providing professors with information and examples about preferred instruction styles can help facilitate a successful classroom experience. Your school might have disability services in place that offer facilitation between professors and students to help fit their accommodations. Oftentimes these services take the form of a letter written to the instructor that explains the student’s necessary accommodations for the class, which the professor must adhere to.

Look to see if your campus offers such services, and set up an appointment with a disability services representative to discuss your options. If your school does not offer services such as these, you can create this letter yourself.

Here is one example of how a letter to your professors could look.

A Man Worth Meeting

We want you to meet Maverick. A man who inspires anyone, diagnosed with Autism or not, to live to their potential no matter the circumstances. It will make you rethink what you believe are obstacles and hold compassion for others whose journey came from a road less traveled. We think he is a man worth meeting! – Jennifer Allen/Aspergers101

My name is Maverick L. Crawford III, and I was born in April (same month is Autism Awareness Month).  I remembered how odd and wired I appeared to be compared to my other siblings. My behavior starting at six months was repetitive and restricted, every day I would hide from everyone and not play with my siblings.

I want to help, support and inspire others on the autism spectrum to not give up or lose hope no matter what you are going through, keep pushing, keep striving, keep persevering to the end there will be a greater reward.

Maverick L. Crawford III

The movement of doors as they open and close was fascinating to me. Any of my toys that were rectangles, I would stack in a specific order as high as possible. If I were not playing with toys, I would entertain myself by hand flapping and be flushing the toilet and watching the water flow down the commode. As a child, I would stay to myself and not respond to my name.

When my mother or siblings touch or find me somewhere in the house, I would have a temper tantrum.  I would suck my ring finger through the day and night as it provided a sense of comfort. Early in my life, I could not understand social interaction (and try to avoid it), nonverbal communication and never maintain eye contact. My mother did not fully understand what was going with me and relied on doctors and professionals to deal with my issues.

I was born an abnormally thick line that connected my tongue to the bottom of my mouth, which is called a tongue-tie. The pain from this tongue-tie was unbearable so much, so I had trouble eating and keeping food down without getting sick. After years of the pain caused by this deformity, I had tongue clip surgery in 1999 at the age of three. Later that year I was diagnosed speech impediment, mental retardation, dysphasia (serve language and speech disorder), autism, attention deficit disorder and having multiple seizures. Being a child with various disabilities like autism brought stress upon my mother because she did not know what approach to take in dealing with the issues I had. Me being the only one with multiple disabilities out of my sibling, I felt like a stranger in my family and unfortunately treated differently.

College with Asperger’s: 7 Benchmarks for Effective Support on Campus

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen significantly since first described in the 1940s. The Center for Disease Control estimates currently 1 in 68 children in the United States lives with an ASD diagnosis, and that 46% of those diagnosed have average to above average intelligence.

College Students with Asperger’s: Academic and Campus Accommodations Necessary

A large body of literature describes the significant, life-long difficulties faced by many individuals diagnosed with ASD. The support needed for college students diagnosed with more traditional disabilities are well documented. However, information is lacking in regard to effectively supporting the college instruction of students with Asperger’s Disorder and how to support their navigation of a campus society.

Building a Community for College Success with Aspergers: One Student’s Experience

An Asperger Student's Personal Experience

Each summer the West Virginia Autism Training Center, located at Marshall University, conducts a college experience for rising high school seniors interested in learning about the college lifestyle. Students take a typical class, live in dorms, participate in skills groups, and attend study halls.

And in between all that, they try to have some fun.

Significant to the experience is the building of “community” – in both the physical and social sense of the word – in which students can feel safe and connected to others. The college support program strives to create an experience where students can recognize and realize their potential. A large part of realizing one’s potential for higher education is feeling grounded and confident on campus.