Friday, March 18, 2016

Planning for Next Year

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and, as a first time blogger, I’m learning a lot about what I need to change to be more diligent about posting.  First of all, I need to schedule a time to write and put it on my calendar.  Second, I need to stop waiting until I have updates on the program to write.  Here’s what I mean by that.  For the last several months, I’ve been waiting patiently for the Tennessee Board of Regents to approve the student fee for Full Spectrum Learning.  In order to serve students to the best of our ability, we have to implement a fee so that the program can be self sustaining.  Grant funds are great, but they only last the term of the grant (in our case, we had two small grants for the 2015-16 year), and they can often be difficult to acquire.  I’ve been waiting on word from my administration about this decision so that I can give all of the details of what the program will look like next year, but it hasn’t come, so guess what?  I’m going to stop waiting around and write anyway.
         Since August, I have had the opportunity to work with 10 amazing individuals.  Although all have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, they are all very different and have unique talents and challenges.  I think, as a society, we tend to think all individuals with autism need to be lumped into one category and all have the same needs.  This is an absolute untruth.  Of these 10 individuals, I have interacted with and assisted all of them in different ways.  They have unique personalities, varying organizational skills (or lack thereof), and multiple academic majors (people often ask me if they are all computer science majors).  Some of the students rarely speak in class; they simply soak everything in.  Others do not want to stop talking and can dominate the conversation at times.  Some of them become over stimulated very easily. Others can be overstimulating themselves.  They are so different, and it has been a wonderful experience. 
         As I plan for next year, I think about all of their strengths and needs, the advice that they have given me to make the program better, and what I can do to make their educational experience as stress free and successful as I can.  I’m also considering the needs of our incoming freshman.  These are things like housing and roommates, registration, and transitioning from high school to college life. We are determined that this program will always be student focused and based on the needs of FSL participants.  We always appreciate feedback, so if you have suggestions or just comments, feel free to post, or email me at  I’ll write again when I have information about the fee and services for next year.  Hopefully that will be soon!

If you or someone you know is autistic, planning to go to college, and would like to apply to our program, visit  The application is at the bottom of the home page.