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Are Autistic Students Ready for College? Associate Dean Weighs in

2% of students accepted into college this Spring will be on the autism spectrum, according to an article this month by Jan Blacher, associate dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California and director of the University’s SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center. In her article, Blacher voiced her concerns about whether both students with autism and their professors are adequately prepared for this moment. “Professors are in this business because, presumably, they like to learn, so at the very least they should learn what autism is, and what they can do better to meet the different, sometimes unusual, learning needs of this group of students,” she wrote. She noted that the main focus for students with autism should be on readiness for academic tasks and appropriate behavior in class, although there is much to be learned when it comes to organizational and social skills as well. She acknowledged that while many students feel anxiety about disclosing their autism diagnosis, honesty might be beneficial if it leads to understanding from professors. “The question is no longer whether to disclose an autism diagnosis but when,” Blacher wrote. “Students often view disclosure as a liability — “If I disclose, it will hurt my chances of getting in.” But with disclosure, there is often understanding, or at least the way is paved for acknowledgment, tolerance and eventual acceptance.” Blacher explained that disclosure is “paramount” if students want accommodations or recognition of their challenges. “In my 40 years as a college professor, I have met and taught increasing numbers of students on the spectrum,” Blacher wrote. “During this time, not one parent has contacted me about their student. This suggests that by the time a student is admitted to the University of California, parents are also ready for the experience. That’s good news.”


Autistic students, Blacher concluded, will be “bringing with them a range of talents and perspectives that will broaden the insights of everyone on campus, and in society as a whole.” Source: https://calmatters.org/commentary/are-professors-parents-and-others-ready-for-college-students-with-autism/

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