The seventeenth chapter of Aspergers on the Job is titled “Asperger’s and Education: Star-Crossed Lovers?”. Here are thoughts on Rudy Simone and discussion about this chapter. Stephanie is one of the fantastic APC Coaches and Doug is the founder of APC.
Doug: This chapter focused on college as it relates to the work world. Simone suggests that most the of those interviewed for this book were not able to graduate college. Furthermore, she mentions a study in 2002 states that approximately twenty-five percent of those with Asperger’s graduate college. While we certainly have clients who fit into this category we also have many that have received their bachelors, masters, and have one client with a law degree. One challenge Simone mentions as a barrier to graduating from college is that the Office is Disability Services still don’t have much of an understanding of Asperger’s and it’s impact on a student’s ability to finish a degree. It seems to be a very important question that we need answers to: how can the Office of Disability Services at many colleges do a better job of helping people with Asperger’s be more successful in college?
Stephanie: I was really surprised when I was reading this chapter and saw the statistic you mentioned above. I know that attending college can be challenging, but never thought the number of graduates would be that small. I only have minimal experience working 1:1 with a woman with ASD who goes to college. Through my experiences with her I learned that the Office of Disabilities will provide her with a letter to give to her teachers detailing the accommodations she needs in class but not much else. While these accommodations are helpful (i.e., extended time on tests, using a smartpen to record lecture notes, etc) it doesn’t do much in terms of her preparation outside of school and how challenging it can be to find a professor whose teaching style matches her learning style. Those are the aspects of school that she and I work on together that you can’t always find through an Office of Disability services- how to be organized for class, making sure she gets her assignments in on time, planning a study schedule, knowing how to prepare for an upcoming assignment, asking questions if she doesn’t understand something, etc.
To answer your question about what to do to help the Office of Disability services become more successful with helping others, I think a lot of it boils down to self-advocacy. If I had a client who is deciding on which classes to take at a college I would recommend that they sit down with someone in the office and share their needs with them with hopes that the administrator can then help match their needs to a specific class and teacher. Or maybe they can offer a class or a tutor that will help the students in small groups or 1:1 practice the skills that I mentioned above. Simone mentioned that there are specific college programs for people with Asperger’s. Maybe colleges across the country could use that as a model on ways to best help their students with ASD?
Doug: Yes, I think all of your suggestions would be very helpful in helping the Office of Disability Services become more successful. I have heard programs at Drexel, Marshall, and Boston University all have solid reputations. However, there are very few out there. A key like you said is self advocacy. I think in many situations students many struggle to advocate for themselves and as a result don’t get the services they need. I know one of our clients has had that issue here in Cleveland. It wasn’t that the Office of Disabilities at his University didn’t offer services that helped their students. It was a matter that our client struggled to initiate asking for help and the Office of Disabilities didn’t do a great job at monitoring his progress on a weekly or monthly basis.
This is the final chapter of Asperger’s on the Job that we will blogging about. If you have any ideas about others books you would like for us to discuss send us an email with your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.