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UB COUNSELING SERVICES ANDREA GREENWOOD, PHD AMANDA EDWARDS, MS Working with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Strategies in College.

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Presentation on theme: "UB COUNSELING SERVICES ANDREA GREENWOOD, PHD AMANDA EDWARDS, MS Working with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Strategies in College."— Presentation transcript:

1 UB COUNSELING SERVICES ANDREA GREENWOOD, PHD AMANDA EDWARDS, MS Working with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Strategies in College

2 Outline Why learn about this? What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? What will you notice about these students? What are some unique issues? What are effective strategies for helping these students succeed in college?

3 Why learn to better serve these students? Part of creating an inclusive campus and affording access to higher education to all students Embrace neurodiversity Unique issues in campus culture, including academic, social and living situations Requires a thoughtful response on the part of student affairs professionals

4 Prevalence of ASD’s ASDs are almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252). ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Overall prevalence rate is about 1% of the population (U.S. & non-U.S.) Rates have increased due to: better diagnosis, decrease in stigma, and broadening of diagnostic definitions

5 What are Autism Spectrum Disorders? A spectrum of life-long neurodevelopmental disorders that impact ways individuals interact with their environment, their behavior, communication, and social interaction. Referred to as a spectrum disorder because no one individual with an ASD looks like any other. Severity of symptoms and functional impact may vary by context and fluctuate over time, and it is typical for learning and compensation to continue throughout life.

6 Autism Spectrum Disorders Essential features of ASD 1. Persistent impairment in reciprocal social communication and social interaction. 2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. (Prior to recent publication of DSM-5, individuals might have been diagnosed with autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder or pervasive developmental disorder. These are now all classified as ASD.)

7 General Characteristics Communication and social deficits: Atypical eye contact Challenges following conversation Difficulty understanding non-literal speech (sarcasm, tone, humor, nuance) Difficulty understanding body language, gestures, facial expression

8 General Characteristics Sensory integration challenges: Can be either hypo or hypersensitive Visual (clumsy, no eye contact) Auditory (covers ears, hums/sings) Tactile (avoids/pursues touch) Taste/smell (refuses novel foods)

9 Other characteristics Limited interests Reliant on routine and disturbed by change Motor skills challenges Light sleepers Higher rates of anxiety/depression than in the neurotypical population

10 Other characteristics Difficulty learning from mistakes Getting lost easily Rigid thinking May be actively help seeking, or may not share that there is a problem until it’s escalated ASD All Grown-up

11 3 strategies to help 1. Explain the rules. 2. Ask questions. 3. Facilitate connections to other students.

12 ASD and the College Transition Students with ASD who complete college may have very good prognosis and employment outcomes – often-times, students can turn typical ASD skills (excellent memories, special interests) into meaningful & useful qualifications. BUT, change is very challenging!

13 College Setting Challenges Extreme difficulty with shared accommodations Difficulty with proximity to others Academic challenges with seminars, discussion groups or public speaking Difficulty understanding instructions Possible issues with anxiety and aggression Feeling overwhelmed by level of stimulation Overreaction by faculty, staff, students and police Voices of the ADA Generation

14 Student Affairs & Support Areas in College Academic Campus Living Career Services Orientation & New Student Programs Student Life & Activities Counseling and Student Wellness Campus Police & Judicial Affairs

15 Academics Consult with Accessibility Resources! Advising, tutoring, instruction and accommodations. Areas of academic challenge:  Managing sensory challenges in classroom & other settings  Executive functioning (setting goals, organization, planning, etc.)  Communicating with professors and peers, perspective taking

16 Campus Living Room assignments Social interaction Personal Care Scheduling Managing conflict/distress

17 Career Services Internships Interview process Career Counseling Portfolio development

18 New Student Programs and Orientation Recognize that you may be interacting with these students during their most stressful experiences! Try to include visual information  Maps (particularly important routes)  Concrete directions Be mindful of the potential for students to feel overwhelmed by range of new experiences

19 Student Life & Activities Assist with forming connections Encourage volunteer & service learning opportunities Encourage participation in student groups with shared interests and coach social interactions

20 Counseling & Wellness Resources Manage anxiety, depression and loneliness It may also be helpful to coach through social difficulty Learning to self-advocate, effectively communicate unique experiences & consider disclosures to others Encourage exercise & physical activity Encourage development of personal strategies for wellness

21 Campus Police & Judicial Affairs May have “meltdowns” or self-stimulating behaviors  Misconstrued as dangerous to others  Know how to respond in calm, supportive manner Identifying a “safe space” to calm down or take a break if becoming over-stimulated. May need explicit rules on pursuing dating Be clear that conduct codes MUST be followed

22 Resources at UB Counseling Services: Accessibility Resources:

23 Other Resources College Internship Program: post-secondary transition program for young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences Students With Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for College Personnel (2009). Lorraine E. Wolf, Ph.D., Jane Thierfeld Brown, G. Ruth Kukiela Bork Navigating College – The Autistic Self Advocacy Network - blogposts by autistic students Illusion of Competence blogspot - first person accounts of being an autistic young person

24 Questions/Comments? Thoughts/Discussion?


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