Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a general term for a group of complex disorders characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. There is not one autism, but a spectrum shaped by genetic and environmental influences.
For more information:
Karla Paul, MA SPCD
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include Autistic Disorder, Rhett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s Syndrome. With the May 2013 publication of the new DSM-5 diagnostics manual, these autism subtypes will be merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
As with other ASDs, scientists do not know exactly what causes Asperger’s syndrome, but it is known that the brain of someone with this condition functions and learns differently.
Accommodations are typically needed in social and executive areas, as well as academics. ARC supports students on the Autism spectrum with the following objectives:
- Problem solving
- Planning skills
- Study skills development
- Increasing campus community awareness
- Note-taking assistance
- Extended test time
- Problem solving
- Distraction-free test room
- Alternative text format
ASD & Campus Life
There is a significant increase in the number of individuals with Asperger’s (AS) and high-functioning Autism (HFA) attending college. Individuals with AS and/or HFA typically have an above-average IQ, but lack the social communication and problem-solving skills necessary to overcome the environmental barriers to college, independent living, and employment.
AS/HFA students may face the following challenges when attending college:
- Dormitory living /li>
- Navigation of campus
- Unexpected changes or adverse situations
- Communicating with staff, faculty, and peers
- Health and wellness
Beyond the Classroom
A student can choose to meet with a Program specialist once a week to address academic, social, and life skills. Strategies may include the following:
- Provide support through transition from home to college
- Review behavioral rules and written guidelines pertaining to the UNM Code of Conduct
- Provide task checklists, task instruction cards, visual reminders
- Support through organizational methods
- Educate students on issues possibly not covered in high school or at home (i.e. Hygiene, social skills, social appropriateness, etc.)
- Assist students with social issues and/or isolation