Each year in the United States, an estimated 50,000 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) turn 18, and that number is on the rise. Approximately 1/3 of these individuals attend college, and of those, only around 20% graduate despite their ability to succeed academically. Resources typically focus on early childhood due to the potential to improve outcomes early in life, yet adulthood makes up the vast majority of one's lifespan. Doesn't it make sense to provide resources to improve adult outcomes as well?
At Austin Peay State University (APSU), we see the opportunity to provide support for our students with autism and see the potential they have for independence and a successful life. Beginning the fall 2015 semester, the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education is offering a program that has been named Full Spectrum Learning (FSL). Our primary purpose is to increase the success of students with ASD in the area of academics, engagement, and retention at APSU. This will occur by offering individualized tutoring, peer and faculty mentoring, and a course focusing on independence, academic, and social skills. The curriculum for this course was developed by Michelle Rigler, Amy Rutherford, and Emily Quinn. These wonderful ladies run the MoSAIC program at UT Chattanooga and have published this curriculum based on 8 years of experience working with students with ASD in higher education. It is our desire that this program will be able to assist as many students as possible in their transition to college life, obtaining a college degree, and beginning a successful career.
It goes without saying that I would like this blog to make others aware that we have this program and are looking for participants, but I also have a deeper aspiration. I want this blog to spread the word that we need programs like this one across the country, and by sharing our experiences, both good and bad, I hope to make the lives of those developing these programs a little easier.