Autism Support Program
The goal of the University of Arkansas Autism Support Program is to provide the intensive assistance that students with high-functioning autism, Asperger's syndrome, PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified), and non-verbal learning disability need in order to be successful in college. Our students are matriculated University of Arkansas undergraduates who have the cognitive abilities to be in college but require more help than their typical peers to complete a college degree.
Students enrolled in the program receive support in three areas: academics, transitioning to independent adult roles and social skills.
Academic support is primarily in the area of executive functions skills. Students receive assistance in designing their academic programs, registering for classes and making schedule changes. Staff facilitates communication with course professors regarding class requirements and any classroom issues that might need to be addressed. Academic coaches help students manage their time, stay organized and assist students in meeting due dates of classroom assignments.
Program staff works closely with the university's Center for Educational Access to ensure that appropriate accommodations are provided. These may include employing a peer note taker, taking quizzes and exams in a non-distractive setting, and extended time for tests. The program staff also works in conjunction with tutoring services available at the university, including the Center for Learning And Student Success (CLASS+) and the Math Resource and Tutoring Center. In addition, program staff will partner with academic advisors assigned by the students' colleges to make sure they are progressing toward graduation.
Transitioning to Independent Adult Roles
Program staff assists students to develop the skills they need to thrive in college and in their future lives including organizational skills, getting along with roommates and managing their time productively. Staff help develop students' self-advocacy skills in a variety of ways including accompanying students to their professors' office hours to ask for assistance as well as serving as liaisons between the students and anyone with whom they must interact on campus. In junior and senior years, we help our students find internships or volunteer opportunities on campus so that all students graduate having had some work experience. We also offer aid with interview skills and resume writing as needed, in conjunction with the Career Development Center.
An important goal of the program is to integrate every student fully into life at the University of Arkansas. Students meet regularly with peer mentors to practice the social skills needed to develop and maintain friendships. Program staff assists students in joining clubs, playing intramural sports, and participating in any social, sporting, theater or special event on campus that they might find interesting.
We hope that each student who will be part of the program graduates from the University of Arkansas having had a full, typical college experience. The scope of the support offered and skills taught not only help our students graduate but also ensure that they will be successful, productive and happy citizens while at the university and for the rest of their lives.