Autism Goes to College Elizabeth Reeve MD HealthPartners Medical Group Regions Hospital E-mail [email protected] There is a Lack of Literature. Gelbar et al May 2014 J of Autism Dev Disorders Only
20 published articles in peer reviewed journals describing collegiate experiences and/or supports for adults with ASD Collectively only 69 participants in those 20 articles Anxiety, loneliness, and depression were the most common first hand experiences reported Autism Goes to College
Current estimates suggest that 0.7 to 1.8% of college students have an autism spectrum disorder About a third of ASD students choose a STEM major (science, technology, engineering or math) Only a third of the high school students identified as ASD ever attend a 2 or 4 year college Autism Goes to College
80% of students with ASD who go from high school directly to a four year college do not complete college Attending a two year college and then transitioning to a four year school markedly increases the chances of graduating A Comprehensive Survey of Current and Former College Students with ASD
Gelbar et al;Yale J of Biology and Medicine 2015 Mar 35 individuals surveyed online 82% reported academic success but only 41% felt they had the social skills to be successful 71% were satisfied with disability services but only 21% happy with career services A Comprehensive Survey of
Current and Former College Students with ASD Anxiety, depression, and loneliness were the most common challenges at 71%, 53% and 47% 60% received formal academic support and 45% received non-academic supports What is Autism?
Autism is a syndrome of atypical neural development characterized by significant dysfunction in social interaction, communication, range of interests and repetitive behaviors. It is a cluster of different symptoms which may range from mild to severe, many to few, and is variable from person to person Autism
Originally described by Kanner in 1943 Report of 11 cases Autistic disturbances of affective contact Believed children were born with the inability to produce enzymes for psychologically processing social cues What Causes Autism
No one knows Autism runs in families It is genetic No specific gene has been located About 20% of cases are related to specific disorders Fragile X syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, other genetic abnormalities
What Causes Autism Most common theory involves inheriting a genetic risk of some level which is then turned on by some type of environmental stress Toxins, birth trauma, viral illness If your genetic risk is very high, the environmental stress needed may
be minor Epidemiology Lack of diagnostic consistency makes it difficult to determine how many people have autism Recent estimates are about 1 in a 68 persons are on the spectrum It is now considered a common
disorder by the CDC Epidemiology Male/female ratio More males then females Many persons who have an autism spectrum disorder do not have intellectual impairment
Old estimates were that 70% were cognitively disabled New estimates are that 70% are NOT cognitively disabled Cognitively Disabled Refers to your IQ score on standardized tests You can have a normal IQ and still
have serious day to day functional impairments Autism Spectrum Disorders An ASD is characterized by abnormalities in: Reciprocal social interactions Communication skills Stereotypic behavior, interests, activities
Triad of Impairments social language interests Autism Social Interactions Marked impairment in the use of
nonverbal behavior eye contact, facial expression body posture social regulation Lack of age appropriate peers Lack of spontaneous (age appropriate) seeking to share enjoyments or interests Lack of (appropriate) social or emotional reciprocity
Autism Communications Delay or lack of development of language Impairment in the ability to sustain or initiate (appropriate) conversation Stereotypic or repetitive use of language example: inability to use pronouns canned or overly intelligent sounding speech
echolalia, delayed or immediate Lack of varied or spontaneous make believe or imitative play Autism Repetitive behaviors Preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of
interest that is abnormal in intensity or focus Inflexible adherence to nonfunctional routines or rituals Repetitive motor mannerisms Preoccupation with parts of objects Autism Does Not Mean.
Nonverbal Unemotional Intellectually impaired Unattached Savant or genius Unsocial How Does Autism Impact the Classroom Neuropsychological deficits Attention span
Processing Filtering Social reciprocity Eye contact Use of language Body language How Does Autism Impact the Classroom
Anxiety, rigidity and repetitive behaviors Life skills Sleeping and eating Time management Hygiene Neuropsychological Deficits Attention span
Not due to a lack of attention but rather a mismatch between the task and the correct amount of attention Can result in over focus on some things and under focus on others Processing speed Think
of it as band width or modem speed It is the limiting step in learning Neuropsychological Deficits Filtering All stimuli have equal value Inability to filter extraneous noise, light, movement causes significant problems
focusing All tasks are equally important The 10 point quiz in chemistry is just as important as the 20 page English paper No Prioritizing and time allotment are often very difficult
ability to "turn off or tune out" the input leads to exhaustion Deficits in Social Reciprocity Eye contact Decreased eye contact makes it difficult to know if the student is listening/engaged Eye contact tends to be better when the student with autism is the speaker and worse when they are listening
Deficits in Social Reciprocity Use of language Often may be verbally intrusive or overly quiet Does not pick up on cues to be quiet or change topics May over estimate understanding of concepts "I know" Always ask the student to repeat the
problem/solution or demonstrate knowledge Deficits in Social Reciprocity Use of language Persons with ASD are literal and concrete thinkers "The paper is due on Friday" "Class is cancelled"
Deficits in Social Reciprocity Body Language May sit too close May have exaggerated or diminished gestures May not understand your body language Anxiety, Rigidity, and Repetitive Behaviors
Routine is important and may be both a blessing and a curse Once a routine is learned the student does well Change in routine can cause significant anxiety Change is class venue, change in due date
Provide advance notice, use multiple modes of communication Email, text, verbal Life Skills Time management Often there are deficits in understanding how much time to allocate to a task Mismatch between time needed and
time available Leads to unintended procrastination If a paper is due in 2 weeks there is no need to start now Life Skills Eating May
have limited food choices May forget to eat Eating may be the most social contact they get Sleeping Very poor self regulation Easily falls into a habit of day/night confusion
Life Skills Hygiene Poor hygiene can impact the classroom Alienates students from their peers Can be a distraction to other students
How to Help Make sure students are aware of disability services Be aware though that many students may not need the academic support of disability services Be willing to communicate with the
students parents/caregivers if the student or family requests Be proactive in letting the student/advisor/family/Dean know if the student is struggling How to Help Students with ASD are often lonely Tell them about yourself Ask questions about activities outside of school
Encourage them to join club/organization Suggest specific events/ideas Follow-up with them after suggestions are made Autism and Looking For A Job Despite academic success finding a job is a great hurdle Many employers cannot look beyond the autism
Phone interviews Face to face interviews Students may struggle with the decision to disclose their disability to a potential employer Autism and Looking For a Job Emails Offers
a chance for the person with ASD to think and process at their own speed May provide too much or too little information, hard to interpret the boundaries Transportation May not drive Why Hire Someone With Autism
Very conscientious about rules On time to work Low absenteeism Uniquely suited for jobs that require detail or repetition Thrive on consistency May have fewer social issues
Drugs and alcohol Loyal employees How Can You Help With Employment? Use your personal connections Let
potential employers know that the student performed well at school despite the autism Appropriate consent needed Work cooperatively with other resources the student may be using such as vocational rehab What Does a Student With ASD Give to This Community
Unending enthusiasm A unique and unbiased perspective An openness to accept others and try new things that other students may not have Questions The End
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