Presentation on theme: "Thriving with Autism/Asperger’s in the College Setting Lorrie Ness, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:
Thriving with Autism/Asperger’s in the College Setting Lorrie Ness, Ph.D.
Part I What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Other Characteristics of AS Difficulties reading body language Facial emotional expression Understanding the impact of behavior or language on others Speech peculiarities Literal interpretation Problems with facial recognition
Other Characteristics of AS Fine motor challenges Sensory hypersensitivity Focus on details Trouble with social interactions Difficulty adjusting to change Problems with attention Becomes lost easily
Other Characteristics of AS Executive Functions Executive Functions Planning Organizing Working Memory Self- Monitoring Inhibition Initiating Many individuals with Asperger Syndrome will face challenges with executive functions. Without support, this can negatively impact grades resulting in academic performance that is below their actual ability level.
Other Asperger’s Strengths Strong vocabulary skills Average or above intellectual ability Excellent memory for factual information Adherence to the rules The ability to excel in a domain of special interest Attention to detail Less susceptible to social demands Strong visual reasoning skills Intense focus on areas of interest
Part II The college experience with Asperger’s
What Makes College Different? College is a time to pursue higher education AND independent living skills Possible New Challenges Laundry Keeping a Sleep Schedule Cooking Developing a Daily Schedule Finding Your Way on Campus Shopping & Money Management Keeping a Tidy Dorm or Suite Cleaning the Bathroom
What Makes College Different? Self-Advocacy New Challenges Less Parental Involvement No IEPs Students must identify their needs and request accommodations This can be especially challenging for students who attended high schools with very specialized programs for autism spectrum disorders.
How is College Different? New Interpersonal Challenges Speaking to professors Decoding the “hidden” rules Group assignments Larger student body & class sizes Negotiating with others Making friends Finding a boyfriend or girlfriend
How is College Different? Moving Out Possible New Challenges Cleaning shared space Personal hygiene Negotiating with roommate(s) Sensory issues in the dorm Single vs shared rooms
How is College Different? Increased need to work independently Breaking the assignments into small steps Making deadlines for each step Time management Prioritization Seeking out tutoring Asking instructors for help
How is College Different? More Frequent Changes in Routine Changes in routine can bring about anxiety. However, changes are also opportunities for growth and for learning new coping skills Roommates Dorm assignment Roommates moving around belongings Class schedules Transportation schedules Class format
How is College Different? Reduced contact with friends and family Less parental intervention Less contact with old friends/family More pressure to make new friends Fewer people you know to introduce you to new people or places
Strategies for College Success Contact the Disability Resource Center
Strategies for College Success Contact the Disability Resource Center Summer semester or summer orientation to ease the transition campus/dorm life
Strategies for College Success Contact the Disability Resource Center Summer semester or summer orientation to ease the transition campus/dorm life Arrange for medical/psychiatric care in advance to prevent lapses in medication
Strategies for College Success Contact the Disability Resource Center Summer semester or summer orientation to ease the transition campus/dorm life Arrange for medical/psychiatric care in advance to prevent lapses in medication Plan routes to class in advance with a guide
Strategies for College Success Contact the Disability Resource Center Summer semester or summer orientation to ease the transition campus/dorm life Arrange for medical/psychiatric care in advance to prevent lapses in medication Plan routes to class in advance with a guide Plan ahead for appropriate bus routes/parking
Strategies for College Success Join a support or social group for students with Asperger Syndrome Consider participating in a social skills group for college students with AS. This can provide concrete instruction for managing the new social experiences one encounters in college Inquire if your college has a mentoring program Seek mental health services for any symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc. that may arise
Strategies for College Success Sensory sensitivity can impact life in the classroom and the dorms. Consider the following environmental management techniques: 1. Reserve a study carrel at the library to reduce unpleasant noises 2. Consider sleeping with a mask or earplugs to reduce light/noise 3. Seek permission to use earplugs or noise cancelling headphones during exams 4. Seek out a roommate with similar environmental preferences if possible
Strategies for College Success Sensory sensitivity can impact life in the classroom and the dorms. Consider the following environmental management techniques: 1. Negotiate with your roommate regarding use of fragrances. 2. Ask permission to wear a mask during labs to reduce smells. 3. Inquire about taking exams in a quiet room free of distracting lights/smells/sounds. 4. Plan ahead to carry snacks of a particular texture.
Strategies for College Success Some individuals prefer to feel a higher level of sensory feedback or find a higher degree of sensory feedback to be calming Seek permission to use a sensory toy in class. Sit with backpack or books on lap to provide heavy pressure. Formal accommodations may be necessary for tests/exams. Wear tight clothing (i.e., bike shorts) under street clothes for added pressure. Experiment with various felt pens to increase friction with the page.
Strategies for College Success Sensory issues, dysgraphia, difficulties with attention and slow processing speed can also make note taking a challenge. Consider accommodations for a note-taker Audio tape lectures Use a smart pen Accommodations to type notes on a laptop Accommodations to provide you with print-outs of slides in class
Strategies for College Success Difficulties with attention, anxiety, OCD, Tourette’s make it necessary to be provided with extended time on exams. Consider working with a tutor skilled in fostering the development of stronger executive functions -planning -organizing -initiating tasks independently
Strategies for College Success Accommodations for reading and writing Pursue tutoring if difficulties with organization impact essays or writing Sometimes over-focus on the details can impact comprehension of the broader message when reading. Guidance about assembling the details into the whole could be helpful.
Strategies for College Success INDEPENDENCE!!! Some accommodations may be necessary for the duration of college and beyond (i.e., typing rather than handwriting). HOWEVER Other accommodations should be phased out as you master these skills. Remember that just because something makes you feel a little bit out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you can’t do it!