Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

by: Brett Marshall

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior and, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, affects one out of every 59 children in the United States. 

 This means at Minnesota State, which has an enrollment of around 15,000 students, about 250 students are affected by autism spectrum disorder. 

How does autism impact students? 

Autism impacts each individual person differently, so in order to understand each person, it’s important to understand the autism spectrum. The graphic below shows how autism varies from person to person with the most severe on the left and most mild on the right. 

Image courtesy of Harkla.co

 

 Information provided by MSU’s Accessibility Resources notes that most college student tend to be on the right side of the spectrum and have High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s or pervasive developmental disorder (PPD).  These students tend to excel in certain academic areas, notably art, math and science. Though these students may be academically gifted, their autism may hinder them in other areas like social interaction, impulse control, rigid thinking and time management. 

What can you do as a student to help your peers who have autism? 

One of the best ways to be understanding of a peer with autism is to just be patient – understand that they may process things differently than you.  In addition, make sure when working on a group project that you clearly map out their role and expectations and be sure to follow up with them to make sure they understand everything they’re supposed to do. 

What resources can autistic students receive from campus? 

Students with autism spectrum disorder can find support and resources by visiting Accessibility Resources in the Memorial Library, Room 132, or by phone at 507-389-2825. Students can also visit the Counseling Center, located in Centennial Student Union 285 and by phone at 507-389-1455. For safety concerns or help with disruptive incidents, students can contact Campus Security at 507-389-2111.

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