In advance of National Autism Awareness Month, Colorado State University will host “Transition and Transformation: Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the College Environment,” a two-day symposium March 23-24 focused on meeting the unique needs of students with autism spectrum disorders in the higher education environment. The symposium is an effort to advance the discussion about a national issue of growing importance on college campuses.
Temple Grandin will provide the keynote address at 9:15 a.m. on March 23 in the Main Ballroom of the Lory Student Center. Grandin, a Colorado State University professor, renowned designer of humane animal-handling facilities and autistic person, will speak about “Autism and My Sensory-Based World.” Using her own experiences as a guide, Grandin will examine the role of finding the right job for people on the autism spectrum. Grandin’s presentation will be webcast live and available for viewing at www.colostate.edu/asd.
The symposium will focus on engaging parents and teaching professionals to help students as well as faculty and staff succeed in the classroom and on campus.
“Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome have been referred to as a ‘developmental puzzle’— a puzzle that presents some unprecedented challenges for public education, students, and parents,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “We know that many people on the spectrum have extraordinary gifts and intellects; we also know some may need new and different kinds of support to succeed academically and socially at the university level. Our goal during the symposium is to broaden the circle within our own community of people who are engaged in and committed to better addressing the higher education needs of the Autism and Asperger’s community.”
The two-day event also will feature presentations by Jane Thierfield Brown from the University of Connecticut School of Law and Lorraine Wolf from Boston University. Thierfield Brown and Wolf will discuss several topics focusing on helping autistic students to successfully transition to higher education.
Thierfeld Brown is director of Student Services at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She has worked in Disability Services for 32 years. Brown received her bachelor’s from the University of Rhode Island in Speech Pathology. She received her master’s in Counseling and Education while coordinating disability services at the University of Rhode Island. She holds a doctoral in Education from Columbia University Teachers College. Brown’s main research interests are students with Asperger’s Syndrome in higher education and students with disabilities in high-stakes graduate programs.
Wolf is director of Disability Services at Boston University. She received her bachelor’s from Hampshire College, her master’s in General Psychology from New York University and her doctoral in Clinical Neuropsychology from the City University of New York. She has more than 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Prior to coming to Boston University, Wolf held faculty appointments at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has taught experimental psychology, assessment and neuropsychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and lectures nationally and internationally on college programming for students with disabilities.
“Students with autism spectrum disorders are increasing in numbers on college campuses all over the country,” said Rose Kreston, director for Resources for Disabled Students at Colorado State. “These are students who have had a great deal of support from parents and the structure of the K-12 school system. At the college level, that support shifts and changes.
“As a result, their academic and future success may be at risk. It is important to recognize the transitional issues these students face, but more importantly, it is critical that those in the college environment are aware of what is needed so that they can thrive and flourish. Awareness is the first step in transforming the campus into one that provides the opportunity for students with autism spectrum disorders to reach their potential, much like Dr. Temple Grandin did.”
The symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. To register, visit www.colostate.edu/asd.
Events scheduled for the symposium include:
March 23 – Transition
• 9-9:15 a.m. – Opening: Welcome by Tony Frank, president, and Rick Miranda, provost, Colorado State University.
• 9:15-10 a.m. – Keynote: “Autism and My Sensory-Based World,” Temple Grandin, professor of Animal Sciences at CSU.
• 10:15-10:45 a.m. – Temple Grandin book signing.
• 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – “Who are These Students and Why Should We Care?” Jane Thierfeld Brown, University of Connecticut School of Law, and Lorraine Wolf, Boston University.
• 12:15-1:15 p.m. ¬– “The Emotional and Social Worlds of ASD Students: Understanding Difficulties and Supporting Growth,” Craig A. Knippenberg.
• 1:30-2:30 p.m. – “Part Two: Who Are These Students and Why Should We Care?” Jane Thierfeld Brown and Lorraine Wolf.
• 1:30-2:30 p.m. – “Own Your Fear – Having Dialogue around Differences,” Bethal Nathan, coordinator of Campus Activities; Jennifer Nival, graduate student, SAHE; Helen Kang, graduate student, SAHE; and Doug Cave, student in Health and Exercise Science.
• 1:30-2:30 p.m. ¬– “Relationships and Friendships: Learning to Understand, Accept, and Celebrate the Differences,” Carole Freemole.
• 2:45-4 p.m. – “Making the Transition to Higher Education,” Jane Thierfeld Brown and Lorraine Wolf.
• 2:45-4 p.m. – “My Roommate with Autism: Language, Social Interaction, and What I Thought I Knew,” David Schelly.
• 5-7 p.m. – “Preparing for the Transition: A Parents and School Workshop,” Jane Thierfeld Brown and Lorraine Wolf.
March 24 – Transformation
• 9-11:30 a.m. – “The First Semester and Beyond,” Jane Thierfeld Brown and Lorraine Wolf.
• Noon -1 p.m. – “Putting Skills into Practice: The Adult Social Skills group at CSU’s Psychological Services Center,” Weston Donaldson, graduate student, Counseling Psychology; Kasey Schultz, graduate student, Counseling Psychology; and Matt Jaramillo, graduate student, Counseling Psychology.
• 1:15-2:15 p.m. – Book discussion: “Thinking in Pictures” by Temple Grandin; Kathleen Ivy, counselor, Resources for Disabled Students at CSU.
• 1:15-2:30 p.m. – “Academics Matter: A Workshop for Faculty,” Jane Thierfeld Brown and Lorraine Wolf.
• 2:45-4 p.m. – “Learning Supports Provide Opportunities for Postsecondary Success for Students,” Cathy Schelly, assistant professor and director of Center of Community Partnerships, Occupational Therapy; and Craig Spooner, Universal Design for Learning coordinator.
The symposium will be held in the Lory Student Center. For a full list of events and locations, visit www.colostate.edu/asd.
The symposium is being held through a grant from the Provost’s Office and support of the Committee for Disabled Student Accessibility, Resources for Disabled Students and the Center for Community Partnerships.
For more information, contact Kreston at (970) 491-6385.
The symposium will lead into National Autism Awareness Month events on campus in April. Watch the CSU website at www.colostate.edu for complete details on the events and activities.