By Alice Doyel
There is no way to cover this topic fully. There are different theories and information. There are many of us who know parts and pieces, often not connected to one another. For those of us in this state of knowledge, I chose the following approach:
- Parts 1 and 2 Theories from two researchers/educators/practitioners, each with 30 plus years of experience in Autism. Interpretations by these researchers differ on some important aspects.
- Part 3 Experiences and insights from a parent of a child with autism attending public school.
- Part 4 Colleges creating opportunities for appropriate education for students with autism.
- Each posting finishes with employment connections. Education is just the starting point for students experiencing autism. To live as an employed or self-employed productive adult is the necessary goal.
Colleges for Students with Neurodiverse Brains
25 Best Colleges for Students with Autism, on the College Choice Website (June 3, 2021) The list includes overview information on each college regarding how it serves neurodiverse students.
Top College Consultants Website lists 168 colleges in alphabetical order, listing location, programs for neurodiverse students, population served, services for neurodiverse students, and fees.
Bellevue College is #25 on the College Choice Website. Bellevue College is part of the expansive Washington Community and Technical Colleges system. Approximately 40,000 students attend Bellevue, taking associate degree programs and professional-technical degrees and certificates. Bellevue partners with Eastern Washington University, the University of Washington, and Washington State University to offer its students access to cross-campus majors and programs.
Bellevue College’s Neurodiversity Navigators (formerly Autism Spectrum Navigators) program works closely with neurodiverse students regarding social interaction, study habits, self-advocacy, and self-regulation. Bellevue offers peer mentoring. It also provides cohort classes that cover career preparation, skill-building, stress management, occupational wellness, interpersonal communication, and more.
Bellevue Neurodiversity Website has links galore, and those links have links, with information for a wide range of neurodiverse students, from those currently in high school to students going for advanced degrees. The website contains a Neurodiversity Navigator Video (25 min.) with a wealth of information. These screenshots will get you some content and the flavor of Bellevue’s Neurodiversity Program.
Bellevue uses a Social Justice Model: Bellevue seeks to empower our students rather than “fix” our students. We do not want to make our students fit into one “correct” or typical way of being. We want to remove the barriers that create difficulty with access. We want to question those cultural constraints. For example, the Medical Model in the world of neurodivergence and autism is a ‘social skills class’ to try to teach you how to do social skills like a “typical” person. Instead, Bellevue wants you to learn how to be yourself, how to understand how you prefer to socialize, what that means for you, and how to be able to access all the areas of life that you would want to or need to access as yourself.
Celebration of Tara Vasanth
Tara Vasanth is the artist who created “Neurodiversity Awareness”, which she permits us to use for the LEV Blog. Tara is a student at William and Mary (Virginia), which actively supports neurodiverse students.
We are showcasing some of Tara’s writing and art from her high school years. “Within Reach” is Tara’s award-winning poem. Tara expresses her inner thoughts to the person she sees in her mirror: her fears, her hopes, and her possibilities. Click to read and enjoy an enlarged version.
Hullabaloo! Goodnight Deep Blue is the second book Tara illustrated and wrote in rhyme for the Dallas Zoo, to teach children about sea animals, how they are endangered, and what actions can save them. Click on the illustration to view or purchase.
To enjoy more of Tara’s creative artwork and writing, including during her college years: taravasanth.com.
Students should choose a college that has connections to companies with job opportunities that fit their interests and skills. The time to find this out is when students interview to apply for college. Ask direct questions! Are there internships in these companies as part of the college curriculum? Which companies annually recruit on campus. Where are prior graduates employed?
Next Blog Post: When Juvenile Crimes Mean Decades of Incarceration.
Musical Finale for Autism Series: Windmills of Your Mind, by Sting. Click on the Links, or on the Image
With Exuberant Imagery 2019 (4:24 min.) With the Lyrics (4:13 min.)
With Saxophonist in a Club Performance 2019 (6:21 min.)