Autism Awareness Month

By Karen Lizzete

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact and learn in ways that are different from most other people. There is often nothing about how they look that sets them apart from other people. The abilities of people with ASD can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support.”

National Autism Awareness Month sought to bring acceptance to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. College of Southern Nevada provides resources and tools for students with ASD.

National Autism Awareness Month was celebrated in April and it was an opportunity to embrace differences while advocating for the ASD population. 

The United Nations relies on National Autism Awareness Month to, “Highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.” 

The CDC recently released its first estimates of those living with ASD. “An estimated 5.4 million or 2.21% of adults in the United States have ASD.”

According to Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, “Only 40% of those who disclosed their disability to their postsecondary school received accommodations.” Thus it is important for CSN students to disclose to receive resources and tools to help.

Dr. Debra Morton, the Interim Director of the Disability and Resource Center and Counseling Psychological Services departments said, “CSN aims to create and maintain a safe space for students with ASD by ensuring an inclusive, accepting environment.” 

CSN does this by providing specific resources for students with ASD including extra testing time, a quiet testing room, access to note takers and referrals to community-based partners, Morton said. 

Students with ASD also have access to the CAPS program, which provides, “Free and confidential psychological services to help students manage their emotional, relational and behavioral growth,” according to the CAPS website. 

“Any of the clinicians can work with someone with ASD,” said Sara Tartaglia, CAPS administrative assistant II. “It is part of the short-term therapy CAPS provides.”

National Autism Awareness Month facilitates community building which is, “Invaluable in helping individuals with ASD and their families navigate the challenges they may face,” said CSN Professor Christopher Whelan, who specializes in ASD.

Whelan added, “People with ASD often face stigma and discrimination. Autism Awareness Month helps promote acceptance and understanding, encouraging people to see individuals with ASD for who they are, rather than focusing on their differences.”

There are some challenges that those with ASD may encounter. 

Whelan said, transitioning into college is overwhelming for most students, especially those with ASD. “(Students with) ASD struggle with moving to a new environment, adjusting to new routines or managing changes in their schedules.” Executive-functioning skills such as planning, organizing, time management or prioritizing tasks may be difficult.

CSN Instructor of human behavior Donna Jordan said challenges can be overcome by, “Ensuring all students with special needs are aware of and familiar with the school’s Disability Resource Center, which CSN goes to great lengths to inform students and professors of.” 

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