Supporting Students on the Autism Spectrum in Higher Education
In a classroom setting, it's easy to identify a person with a broken arm. Instantly, the instructor might assume that this student needs assistance with note taking. But what happens when there is no obvious cue that a student needs accommodations? The markers of being on the spectrum are not always apparent. This makes it challenging for instructors to not only identify students in need of help but also to know how to proceed when they do come across these students.
After interviewing professors at UCSB, I gathered tips and suggestions from professors who have worked directly with students who are on the spectrum and conducted secondary research to identify important strategies that are helpful to instructors at higher education institutions when interacting with students who are on the spectrum.
The purpose of this research project is to first and foremost raise awareness. Second, I want to help instructors create higher education classrooms that are more welcoming and comfortable for students. In addition, I want to remind instructors and staff that, although students on the spectrum and those who may have other invisible disabilities may not be apparent, these students are not only out there, but their numbers are growing.
A child with autism is not ignoring you... they are waiting for you to enter into their beautiful world which you are still unaware of!
This research project was conducted as part of the UCSB Raab Writing Fellowship Program. I want to send out a special thank you to Diana Raab for funding this program and to those who administer it for helping to bring this project to life.