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The Autism Spectrum: Helping Students Transition & Succeed Peggy Mitchell Norwood, Ph.D. Mental Health Consultant Living Well Press

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Presentation on theme: "The Autism Spectrum: Helping Students Transition & Succeed Peggy Mitchell Norwood, Ph.D. Mental Health Consultant Living Well Press"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Autism Spectrum: Helping Students Transition & Succeed Peggy Mitchell Norwood, Ph.D. Mental Health Consultant Living Well Press 303-745-4944

2 Have you ever encountered a student who …? A.had a hard time adapting to small changes in the syllabus or new due dates B.seemed odd or eccentric C.sent off multiple emails in a short span of time D.rambled on and on about a tangentially related topic E.seemed withdrawn during group activities F.two or more of the above

3 Overview & Objectives  Review diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder  Identify abilities and deficits of college students on the Autism Spectrum  Compare and contrast K-12 vs. post-secondary student roles and responsibilities  Understand self-management and self-advocacy  Review strategies for supporting social and interpersonal interactions  Identify campus resources

4 Changes in DSM-5 Autism Spectrum Disorder  Four previously separate disorders  Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD NOS  Now a single condition with different levels of symptom severity  Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder should be given the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

5 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 1. Persistent deficits across multiple contexts in social communication and social interaction 2. Restricted repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities (RRBs) Image courtesy of Vlado | Both components are required for a diagnosis of ASD

6 Social Communication and Social Interaction (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)  Deficits in reciprocal social communication and interaction  Deficits in non-verbal communication used for social interaction  Deficits in skills for developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships

7 RRBs (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)  Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech  Insistence on sameness, inflexible routines or ritualized verbal/nonverbal behavior  Highly restricted, fixated interests  Sensory sensitivities or impairments

8  Hyper-reactivity or hypo-reactivity to sensory input  Unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment Sensory Sensitivities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) image courtesy of khunaspix |

9 ASD and Development  Labeled different, special education, “disabled”  Past history of being teased, left out, and bullied (Nagler, n.d.) image courtesy of Gualberto107 |

10 Prognosis  Most children with ASD improve during adolescence  Small percentage live independently as adults  Remain socially naïve and vulnerable  Difficulties organizing without help  Prone to depression and anxiety (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) image courtesy of Ambro|

11 Autism Spectrum  Wide variety of outcomes and presentations  Influenced by the severity of the autistic condition, developmental level, and chronological age  Without supports in place, deficits cause noticeable impairments  Can be masked by compensatory mechanisms and interventions (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)

12 Strengths  May be very articulate and have a large vocabulary  Often excel creatively in a non-conventional way  Tend to have excellent long term and rote memory abilities  May have extremely good visual and visual- spatial skills  Can be very creative; out of the box thinkers (Sicile-Kira, 2011)

13 ASD and College Students  “High-functioning Autism” and Asperger’s Disorder  Special interests may be a source of pleasure and motivation and provide avenues for education or employment Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

14 Challenges for College Students with ASD  Establishing independence  Planning, organization, coping with change  Classroom interaction  Social isolation Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

15 K-12College mandated programs/participationself-identify, self-initiated parents involved and make decisionsparents not involved (FERPA), self- advocacy structured environment and scheduleunstructured environment, discretionary time and freedom limited choicesunlimited choices

16 Independence  On-campus vs. off-campus  Advising and registering for classes  Self-Advocacy Image courtesy of imagerymajestic |

17 Self-Advocacy  Accommodations - note-takers or instructor’s lecture notes, extra time on tests, study guides  Financial aid and bookstore  Tutoring and academic support  Communicating with professors and office hours  Roommates and classmates

18 Organization  Activities of daily living  Medication management and healthcare  Time management  Academic responsibilities  Self-management (Williams & Palmer, n.d.) Image courtesy of Keattikorn |

19 Activities of Daily Living (Williams & Palmer, n.d.) Image courtesy of FrameAngel  Sleep  Eating  Hygiene and clothing  Money management

20 Medication and Health Care (Williams & Palmer, n.d.) Image courtesy of voraorn |  Co-existing conditions  Medications and compliance  Medical emergencies

21 Time Management (Williams & Palmer, n.d.) Image courtesy of Keattikorn |  Calendars  Study schedules  Checklists and to-do lists  Workshops

22 Self-Management (Williams & Palmer, n.d.) Image courtesy of imagerymajestic |  Discuss and prepare a plan in advance  Practice  Multi-tasking  Coaching

23 In what other ways can you assist students who are struggling with organization?

24 Academics  Communication issues and class discussions, oral presentations, and group activities  Distraction-free environments and seating  Extra time to process during class discussions, assignments, and exams Image courtesy of smokedsalmon |

25 Social and Interpersonal Interactions  Social approach  Living arrangements  Campus activities, clubs, organizations  Social life, friends, and dating Image courtesy of stockimages|

26 Special Interest Clubs  University of Illinois, U-C Image courtesy of ambro |

27 Sensory Sensitivities  Universal Design for Learning – teach to a variety of learning styles  Allow use of a computer for note-taking  Recommend smaller class sizes  Seating  Comfort items  Headphones or earplugs  Turn off florescent lighting image courtesy of khunaspix | (Sicile-Kira, 2011)

28 Tips for Faculty  Use clear directives and establish rules if a student invades your space or imposes on your time or the student's classroom comments or conversational volume become inappropriate  Avoid idioms, double meaning, and sarcasm, unless you plan to explain your usage  Avoid using words such as “always” and “never” (UMass-Dartmouth, n.d.)

29 Tips for Faculty  Clearly define course requirements, the dates of exams and when assignments are due  Provide advance notice of any changes  Make sure all expectations are direct and explicit  Don't require students to "read between the lines”

30 Tips for Faculty  Supplement oral with written instructions when revising assignments, dates, etc.  Keep directions simple and declarative  Ask students to repeat directions in their own words to check comprehension  List or number changes/corrections on a paper to help structure feedback

31 Tips for Faculty  Use the student's preoccupying interest to help focus/motivate the student  Suggest ways to integrate this interest into the course, such as related paper topics

32 Tip Sheet  UMass - Dartmouth  ccess/Academic_Supports_for_College_Students_with_an_Autism _Spectrum_Disorder__Quick_Overview.pdf ccess/Academic_Supports_for_College_Students_with_an_Autism _Spectrum_Disorder__Quick_Overview.pdf

33 Campus Resources  Accessibility Services – accommodation letters, academic support, coaching, advising  Academic – tutoring, libraries  Social – Student Life, clubs, volunteering  Personal – counseling, resident advisor, advisor, peer mentor

34 Campus Resources  Marshall College: The College Program for Students with Asperger’s Syndrome  Pace University: Professor’s Guide (Pt. 1) (Pt. 2)

35 References American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. Nagler, M. (n.d.). College experience for students with Asperger’s. Retrieved from syndrome.pdf. Sicile-Kira, C. (2011). Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview. Retrieved from students-with-an-autism-spectrum-disorder-an-overview/ Williams, G. and Palmer, A. (n.d.) Preparing for College: Tips for Students with HFA/Asperger's Syndrome. Retrieved from approaches/preparing-for-college-tips-for-students-with-hfa-aspergers- syndrome-new-gladys-williams-and-ann-palmer UMass-Dartmouth (n.d.). Resources for Educators and How to Teach Students on the Autism Spectrum. Retrieved from ate/howtoteachautismspectrum/

36 Questions or Comments?

37 Peggy Mitchell Norwood, Ph.D. 303-745-4944

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