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We are featuring below a cross blog from Michael McManmon of the College Internship Program (CIP) on the topic of the importance of young adults with Asperger’s, autism, or other learning differences finding the right environment to accommodate their particular sensory needs. You can find more information about CIP on their website at www.cipworldwide.org.
Sensory Integration and Young Adults: Finding the Right Environment in a Classroom or Dormitory Setting
By Michael McManmon, Ed.D
I am the founder of the College Internship Program (CIP) a program designed to help young people with Asperger’s Syndrome, high-functioning autism and learning differences make successful transitions from adolescence to young adulthood. At CIP, we prepare young adults ages 18 and up to enter college, pursue career training, and learn the skills needed for life, work, and independent living. The diagnosis of Asperger’s, autism, or a learning difference sets the stage for young adults with sensory issues to get the help needed and gain the self-awareness necessary to make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Finding the right classroom, dormitory room, or an apartment environment that supports and accommodates your young adult’s needs is essential. When I was in my early 50’s I was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Looking back at events during my childhood and schooling my late-in-life diagnosis explains so many of the sensory issues, situations, and difficulties I experienced and continue to experience as an adult.
When I was in high school, with no desk in my bedroom or quiet space to go to, I used the dining room table when doing my homework and my favorite pastime, drawing. I had to learn to deal with the constant traffic going past the table and the sensory overload this caused as my six siblings would come and go all evening. Looking back and in retrospect, this was good training for college as it prepared me for being able to seek a quiet space to study.
My dorm room was impossible for this task. The noises and distractions reminded me of my chaotic study space at home and caused me to feel the same anxiety I experienced during my early school years. I found that if I started to read a book in my room, I would get distracted by my roommate trying to talk to me. In my case, the rules of the library were perfect for me. Studying in a small, enclosed cubicle met my needs, as everyone had to be quiet. I would feel enclosed, encased, secure, and accomplish my work in an atmosphere that fed, not deprived my senses. There was just enough background noise to keep me awake, but no conversation to distract me.
For your young adult the issues might be loud or repetitive noises (i.e. a loud clock ticking), bright lights, or foul smells. Young adults who suffer from sensory overload can either implode or explode when faced with these issues on a daily basis. To avoid either scenario, young adults need to develop their own specific pro-social coping mechanisms for dealing with individual sensory issues.
Students in our programs start with individual sensory assessments and then focus on the areas that cause them the most distress. Awareness is the first step, followed by being motivated to change and lastly, being willing to incorporate new behaviors for coping with the issues.
Finding the right sensory environment for your young adult is vital. Some students can do well in a cubicle in a library (as I did) others require fluorescent lights, or a quiet space with dim lights. The spaces that students work should be accessible and work for them not of against them. This allows your young adult on the Asperger’s, autism, learning differences spectrum to be more productive, have fewer problems, and gain the skills necessary for school, life, and work.
For further information about The College Internship Program, please visit www.cipworldwide.org or call 1-877-566-9247.
We Connect Now is featuring below a cross blog from our friends at the E-Skolar Blog, The Spout
, who provided the following list of useful resources for college students. Their website can be found at http://e-skolar.com
Resources for Students with Disabilities
by NICOLE on SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
College students typically have a hard time adjusting to life changes in their freshmen year. It’s the whole new independent lifestyle that would be challenging for anyone. Newly found independence and freedom can be a bit overwhelming, not to mention the personal responsibility of managing course work and organizing a schedule. Anyone who has been through the first year of college can relate to this stress.
But what about those who have more challenges to overcome? What about those students who need special assistance due to their disability? The university campus can be a great social melting pot that can be used to make lifelong friends and contacts. But sometimes people with disabilities need a little extra help adjusting to this new world.
Here are some great links for students with disabilities who are thinking about signing up for college courses.
- National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials Making Learning Resources Available to all Students with Disabilities
- LD Online – The world’s learning website on learning disabilities and ADHD
- Disability.gov – This site is a great resource for students with disabilities looking for information on new legislation, classroom support, accommodation, scholarships, etc.
- COSD – Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
- ODEP – Office of Disability Employment Policy
- ADA – Information on the Americans with Disabilities Act
- National Network – Guidance and Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act
- ODEP – Office of Disability Employment Policy
- JAN – Job Accommodation Network: Questions about workplace accommodations, questions about ADA, and related legislation
- Project Action – Promoting access to transportation for people with disabilities.
- National Resource Directory – Education and training resources for wounded, disabled, and injured service members.
- ADA – ADA guide and publications
- AAPD – American Association of People with Disabilities
- Disability Access Services Blog – Blog from Oregon State University with information about students with disabilities.
- We Connect Now We Connect is dedicated to uniting people interested in rights and issues affecting people with disabilities.
High School and College Students
- ED.gov – Office for Civil Rights Publication: Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights
- ED.gov – Office for Civil Rights Publication: Protecting Students with Disabilities
- Washington Do-It – Disabilities, Opportunities, Internet Working, and Technology: Programs for individuals with disabilities who want to study technology and computer science.
- NPR : 10 Tips for College Students with Disabilities
- Eberly College of Arts and Sciences – Science education for students with disabilities.
- Access Text Network – This site facilitates and supports the national delivery of alternative electronic text books to higher education institutions for students with documented disabilities.
Other Blogs Worth Reading
a blog about: Life Without Limits with UCP-OC, United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County http://ucpoc.wordpress.com/
IMAGE Center Blog – Changing the Meaning of Disability for Everyone http://www.imagemd.org/blog/
Campus Progress http://www.campusprogress.org/page/community/members
World Statistics on Disabilities
Academic Paper on Political Participation of People with Disabilities
Sidelined or Mainstreamed? Political Participation and Attitudes of People With Disabilities in the United States