We do know that autistic students suffer high levels of depression, anxiety, and social isolation. We also know that their difficulties can affect their academic performance. (Group projects can be hard.) They have to cope with these problems without the protection of an IEP, since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act does not apply to higher education. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provide for certain accommodations (for instance, extra time for tests), but the student has to seek them. According to Jane Brown Thierfeld, co-director of an organization of professionals who assist autistic students, forevery student receiving special services, there are one or two on that same campus who have not come forward.At The State Press (Arizona State University), Emma Sounart writes:
Autistics On Campus began with a single interaction.
Maria Dixon, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at ASU, was approached at a Speech and Language intervention by two students with autism who were searching for a safer environment for students like them.
Both explained to her that they didn’t have any other friends who also had autism, so Dixon rallied them together to combine forces and start the community called Autistics On Campus.
As a part of Autistics On Campus, students with autism build their social interactions while also strengthening relationships with their peers, and students without autism grow in their acceptance toward all students and participate in the empowerment of those with autism through taking action.
Although a fresh club with under 25 members, this group of students already has a multitude of ideas flowing in for this semester. Their events balance advocacy work and social hangouts, ranging from Autism Awareness Month events to movie nights on campus. Autistics On Campus hopes to create an acceptance for what autism is as well as a much-needed support group for young adults and adults with autism.