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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Transition in Norway

  In The Politics of Autism, I discuss international perspectives.

From Eric Benninghoff:

For the past year I have traveled throughout Norway, exploring the transition to adulthood for a variety of often-marginalized groups, including people with intellectual disabilities or learning challenges. Along the way, I have met several organizations aiming to improve the situation for this population, including a largely government-funded but privately run group called Helt Med.

Helt Med has developed a work inclusion model across Norway to help employ individuals with intellectual disabilities in the mainstream workforce. More recently, they have also been trying to expand a smaller pilot program called Ung Jobb, which aims to create a smooth school-to-career pipeline for some of these students.

As of spring 2023, only about 40 high school students have gone through the Ung Jobb program, which is primarily in Agder County in southern Norway. But Agder government announced it will be tripling its current investment in the program starting in the 2023-2024 school year. This comes as Helt Med aims to expand the Ung Jobb project to other parts of the country.

This video report takes an in-depth look at Helt Med’s school-to-career program in Agder County, exploring its potential as one solution to better support students with intellectual disabilities in their transition from school to working life in Norway.


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

AI Chatbots and Autistic People

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Amanda Hoover and Samantha Spengler at Wired:
Autism affects people in many different ways and individuals can have varying needs. ChatGPT may not work for some or even most, but a common feature of autism is that social interactions can be difficult or confusing.

Using a chatbot to help with communication may seem unconventional, but it’s in line with some established ideas used in social work to help people become more independent. “We talk about empowering people and helping people to be fully autonomous and experience success on their own terms,” says Lauri Goldkind, a professor in Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service who focuses on the marriage of social work and technology. An accessible tool like a generative AI bot can often help bridge the gap left by intermittent access to mental health services like therapy, Goldkind says.

But the true impact of ChatGPT for therapeutic reasons is largely unknown. It’s too new—WIRED reached out to four clinical therapists and counselors for input. Each of them declined to comment, saying that they have yet to explore the use of ChatGPT as a therapeutic tool or encounter it in their sessions.

But ChatGPT still does not reason very well.  I asked it why Senator Rick Santorum sponsored the Combating Autism Act of 2006.  Among the reasons that it cited: " Santorum has a child with a developmental disability. His daughter, Bella, was born with Trisomy 18, a rare genetic condition that causes severe developmental delays. This personal experience likely influenced his interest in issues related to disabilities and special needs, including autism."  But Bella Santorum was born in 2008, two years after the bill passed.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Abusing VAERS

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be measles and COVID-19.

A release from the Annenberg Public Policy Center:
The federal health system for reporting “adverse events” after vaccination, known as VAERS, is designed to assist in the early detection of complications and responsive action. But when the pandemic and advent of new vaccines for Covid-19 turned a spotlight on this formerly little-known system, the flood of web and social media references to it was accompanied by confusion about what the system is and what the reports in it signify.

A new report from the Annenberg Public Policy Center examines misconceptions about the government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS. The report urges the government agencies that manage the system to change its name to a clearer alternative such as “Vaccination Safety Monitor” or “Vaccination Safety Watch,” and make additional changes to reduce the likelihood its information will be misinterpreted or misused.
Since the inception of VAERS in 1990 (CDC, n.d., About VAERS), its data have been mistakenly cited to suggest that the recording of an event in VAERS confirms that it was vaccine-caused. Long before COVID-19 was added to our working vocabularies, people falsely alleging that the MMR vaccine causes autism were backing that bogus claim with mischaracterized VAERS event report data.
Such problematic uses persist. So, for example, on June 18, 2021, lawyer, author, and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., tweeted, “Latest numbers from CDC VAERS is in… Data for 12- to 17-year-olds include 7 deaths + 271 serious adverse events following COVID vaccine” (Kennedy, 2021). The mental representation invited by that text: COVID-19 vaccination is endangering teens. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Survey: Employers Underestimate Disability Among Employees

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

From Boston Consulting Group:
Most organizations report that their workforce includes relatively few employees with disabilities: just 4% to 7% on average.1 But in our survey of nearly 28,000 employees in 16 countries, some 25% of people said they have a disability or health condition that limits a major life activity.

We are not the only ones finding a higher prevalence of disabilities among the workforce. Our survey’s self-identification rate falls within the range of prevalence rates for workers with disabilities or health conditions across several countries: approximately 13% to 30%.

The disparity between the prevalence rates that employers report and the self-identification rates that employees shared with us reveals three troubling workplace realities:
  • Employees with disabilities significantly underdisclose to their employers, perhaps fearing stigma or a negative impact on their job security or promotion prospects.
  • Employers are missing a large-scale opportunity to enable a quarter of their workforce to bring their full selves to work.
  • And employers making decisions and investments regarding their workforce are relying on inaccurate information. If management doesn’t understand the true number of people with disabilities (PwD), it’s hard to make a case for developing tailored support systems that could have significant benefits.

Saturday, May 27, 2023


When disabled people reach their 22d birthday, they no longer qualify for services under IDEA. ... People in the disability community refer to this point in life as “the cliff.” Once autistic people go over the cliff, they have a hard time getting services such as job placement, vocational training, and assistive technology. IDEA entitles students to transition planning services during high school, but afterwards, they have to apply as adults and establish eligibility for state and federal help. One study found that 39 percent of young autistic adults received no service at all, and most of the rest got severely limited services.

What happens when autistic people have needs that outlive their parents? Susann Senator at Psychology Today:
Clearly, there are problems with the Mom-as-ghost approach; I understand that this is not actually an option. And yet, by paying attention to that terrible longing I have to float over Nat and guard him forever, I came up with an idea that actually has legs. I called my new idea G.H.O.S.T., "Group Home Oversight and Support Team," with the idea that members of the disability community would help out with oversight of each others' disabled loved ones by spending a little time with them.

The GHOST concept soon evolved into "General Help, Outreach, and Support Team" because that name can encompass far more people than those in group homes. Rather than just being about those living in group homes, GHOST could focus on caregivers and family members helping each other out in general but especially when it comes to spending a little time with the disabled loved one.

What is GHOST and how would it work?

It didn't take long for my idea to gain support. In particular, Cheryl Ryan Chan, a good friend and a huge community advocate proposed that GHOST become a subgroup within the Community Builders of Massachusetts TimeBank, which she is still in the process of organizing and launching. In Community Builders Time Bank groups, which exist nationwide, members “bank” time by performing tasks for other members, who would then “repay” this by contributing time and tasks of their own to the bank. For example, Jane visits Andrew in his group home and shares a snack with him. Or Jane goes to the group home to help Andrew with a clothing inventory. This means that now Andrew's family member would now have to donate the same amount of time or more to a member of the GHOST Community. GHOST members donate only what they are comfortable with, but the time they give determines the time they get. Some GHOST members might donate time in other ways in order to get another pair of eyes on their loved one, like looking after a sibling or cutting the grass of a time bank member. In other words, members commit time to gain time. If “it takes a village,” then GHOST would provide that village for families.

Friday, May 26, 2023

GOP Keeps Going Antivax

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be measles and COVID-19.

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.   Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures. 

Virginia Kruta at the Daily Wire:
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded Thursday to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s claim that he had advocated burning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “to the ground,” and he didn’t back down an inch.

DeSantis, who officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, made it clear that complete destruction of those particular institutions might be going too easy on them.

“There was a report that — I had spoken with Bobby Kennedy Jr., and he had said that ‘the governor said that you know, that we need to burn to the ground the CDC’ and all these things,” DeSantis began.

“And I just want to be very clear, full disclosure,” DeSantis continued. “I was not that kind to CDC and NIH and any of those [agencies]. Just for the record, just so your viewers don’t think I’m going soft, but I can’t think of a more catastrophic response than how this country responded to COVID, particularly at the federal level.”

Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone:

Arizona Republicans are hosting a two-day, QAnon-inflected, anti-vaccine circus at the statehouse — focused on supposed “atrocities” committed by public health officials in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hearings, which began this morning, are organized by a new state Senate body, the Novel Coronavirus South Western Intergovernmental Committee. The committee’s chosen acronym — NCSWIC, which has been plastered on posters promoting the hearings — offers unusual cross-branding. It shares the abbreviation of an infamous QAnon catchphrase, “Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming.”

Other “sponsors” of the proceedings include Robert F. Kennedy’s anti-vax nonprofit Children’s Health Defense, and a little-known group calling itself 1,000 Widows, which seeks testimonies from families of Covid victims. “Whistleblowers who know the truth about what really happened to our loved ones at the hands of the hospitals carry the greatest responsibility than anyone on earth,” says a statement on its website.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Pop Culture and Stereotypes

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss challenges facing autistic adults and children.  One is stereotyping of autistic people.

 Claire Kenny at Ms.:

How do people without knowledge of autism normally picture an autistic person? Perhaps, as Dr. Devon Price said, “a white man with a monotone voice, rude demeanor and a penchant for science.” Price, a social psychologist, professor and trans author on the autism spectrum, lists in his book Unmasking Autism (2022) more stereotypical examples of autism in pop culture: Shaun Murphy from The Good Doctor, Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and Rick from Rick and Morty. In other words, he writes, some variation of “white boys who love trains.”

But autism can take many forms, and often presents differently in girls and boys.


Women and girls on the spectrum have continuously been more under- or misdiagnosed with autism than boys, and on average receive diagnoses later in life than boys and men do. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) notes that the ratio of autistic boys and men to autistic girls and women is generally considered 4:1, yet NLM researcher Robert McCrossin suggests this statistic might be inaccurate due to sexist bias.


Studies on autistic adults have found that women mask their autism more than men do, which could explain why they often fly under the radar. The cause may relate to sexist social expectations for women and discrimination from patriarchal medical systems.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Cultural Adaptation

In The Politics of Autism, I note that siagnosis depends on observation of behavior.  There are multiple problems with this approach, including cultural differences.

At the University of Virginia, Michaela DuBay, an assistant professor and speech-language pathologist, explains the difference between translation and cultural adaptation:
A standard translation is just a linguistic adaptation. You’re just trying to take the words and put them into a new code, if you will. But when you’re talking about switching languages, the vast majority of the time, you’re talking about switching cultures as well. And the way that you understand concepts from one culture to another can be completely different.

I was translating an autism assessment questionnaire that included the question, “When you clap your hands, shake your head, or stick out your tongue, does your child imitate you?”

We would ask families this question, and they would get really uncomfortable. And they would say, “No, my child would never stick out their tongue. I would never teach them that.” Because that particular gesture is viewed as completely inappropriate in some cultures. So if you translate that directly, parents interpret it as asking about polite behaviors rather than imitation skills.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

White Evangelicals and Vaccines

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong.

White evangelicals are the demographic group least likely to support vaccine requirements for children to attend public schools, according to new data from Pew Research Center.

The share of white evangelicals who are in favor of vaccines for public school attendance has dropped to 58%, down from 77% who said the same in 2019, Pew’s data shows.

The COVID-19 vaccine prompted an increase in parents claiming religious exemptions for vaccines, as both state vaccine data and opinions expressed in the Pew surveys show. The data didn’t surprise the Rev. Rob Schenck, a pastor who has written about the dangers of mixing politics and religion and has also written multiple articles about what Christian theology says about vaccines and vaccine mandates. He said he believes there is no theological basis for refusing vaccines.

“There’s an assumption among many evangelicals that science and medicine have discounted the reality of the supernatural, so why trust it? If we serve only one master, one Lord, then whenever the government starts getting into your personal business, they’re trying to be God.”

There are also legal implications on the topic. An article written by Mark E. Wojcik Professor of Law, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law published by the American Bar Association reflects many of Schenck’s views on the issue.

One prominent pastor has even said that autism is demonic possession

Monday, May 22, 2023

Paperwork Requirements and People with Disabilities

 The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance and Medicaid services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilitiesHome and Community-Based Services (HCBS) are particularly important.

From KFF:

On April 26, 2023, the House of Representatives passed a Republican debt ceiling bill (HR 2811, the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023) that includes a requirement for states to implement work requirements for certain Medicaid enrollees. Data show that 91% of non-elderly Medicaid enrollees who are not on Supplemental Security Income or Medicare are working or face barriers to work. We estimate that if the proposal were fully implemented in 2024 and the rate of Medicaid eligibility loss was as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated, then 1.7 million enrollees would not meet work or reporting requirements and potentially face disenrollment in that year.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorites argues against increased paperwork requirements for Medicaid participants with disabilities:

Research suggests that some populations would be especially harmed by these work-reporting requirements, including people with disabilities, women, people who are experiencing homelessness, and people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders.[10] Even though exemptions would apply to some in these groups, states often lack the capacity to hire sufficient staff to respond to people’s questions or manage work-reporting systems and the exemption process. People who have fewer transportation options or live in rural areas,[11] face language or literacy barriers, are in poor health or have limited mobility, or have limited internet access[12] would face particular barriers to understanding the new requirements and navigating reporting systems, applying for exemptions, and collecting the verification needed to prove that they meet an exemption criterion.

There is no upside to Medicaid work-reporting requirements. Research has not found any impact of the requirements on employment,[13] and data from Arkansas show that few enrollees engaged in new work-related activities.[14] Instead, work-reporting requirements strip health coverage from people with low incomes — most of whom are already meeting or exempt from the requirements — leading to gaps in care that damage their health and financial security and make it harder for them to find or keep a job.[15]

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Removing the MMR Personal Belief Exemption

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Tyler P. Moore and colleagues have an article at The American Journal of Public Health titled "State Policy Removing the Personal Belief Exemption for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) School Immunization Requirement, Washington State, 2014–2022."

Objectives. To assess the impact of Washington State’s 2019 Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 1638—which removed measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) personal belief exemptions—on MMR vaccine series completion and exemption rates in K–12 students.

Methods. We used interrupted time-series analyses to examine changes in MMR vaccine series completion rates before and after EHB 1638 was passed and the χ2 test for differences in exemption rates.

Results. EHB 1638 implementation was associated with a 5.4% relative increase in kindergarten MMR vaccine series completion rates (95% confidence interval = 3.8%, 7.1%; P ≤ .001), and results were similar with Oregon as a control state (no change observed in Oregon; P = .68). MMR exemptions overall decreased 41% (from 3.1% in 2018–2019 to 1.8% in 2019–2020; P ≤ .001), and religious exemptions increased 367% (from 0.3% to 1.4%; P ≤ .001).

Conclusions. EHB 1638 was associated with an increase in MMR vaccine series completion rates and a decrease in any MMR exemption. However, effects were partially offset by an increase in religious exemption rates.

Public Health Implications. Removal of personal belief exemptions for the MMR immunization requirement only may be an effective approach to increase MMR vaccine coverage rates statewide and among underimmunized communities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print May 18, 2023:e1–e10.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

"A positive screen is not equivalent to an autism diagnosis."

From UC Davis:
A new study by UC Davis MIND Institute researchers and others finds that an autism screening tool used widely in the U.S. and around the world is effective but has limitations. The findings highlight the need for providers to use their own judgment and be clear with parents about the limits of the tool, called the M-CHAT-R/F (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised with Follow-Up).

The researchers analyzed more than a dozen studies of the screening tool from around the world, which included tens of thousands of children. Their work was published today in Pediatrics.

The M-CHAT-R/F is a tool commonly used by pediatricians to screen children for autism around the world. It includes a set of questions that providers ask parents or caregivers about their child’s development, and usually takes about five minutes to administer. If the child receives a positive screening result, a provider usually recommends further evaluation.

The team found that the tool commonly flagged children as positive for autistic traits, who, after a full assessment, did not receive an autism diagnosis, though most did have other developmental challenges. In addition, a significant portion of children who were flagged as negative for autistic traits were later diagnosed with autism.

“Although the M-CHAT-R/F has a clear role in autism screening, these results remind clinicians that a positive screen is not equivalent to an autism diagnosis,” said lead author Aishworiya Ramkumar, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the National University of Singapore. Ramkumar is also a former ITPND (International Training Program in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) fellow at the MIND Institute.

“When clinicians counsel parents and caregivers after a positive screening they must be clear that the child still needs to have a definitive assessment.”

Friday, May 19, 2023

An RFK Funder

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrongA leading anti-vaxxer is presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  He has repeatedly compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.  Rolling Stone and Salon retracted an RFK article linking vaccines to autism.

Brian Schwartz at CNBC:

A veteran Wall Street executive told CNBC that he has been helping bankroll Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s anti-vaccine group and has become an informal advisor to the organization.

Mark Gorton, founder and chairman of high-frequency trading firm Tower Research Capital, said he has given $1 million to the anti-vaccine nonprofit organization called Children’s Health Defense since 2021.

Kennedy, a longtime vaccine critic and a son of late senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, founded Children’s Health Defense. The younger Kennedy was also chairman of the group’s board before he launched his run for president as a Democrat in April.
Asked about Gorton’s donation, a spokeswoman for the Children’s Health Defense said in an email, “CHD’s donor information is confidential and only communicated to the IRS in compliance with their rules/regulations.”

A Kennedy campaign spokesperson did not return requests for comment before publication.

The Associated Press reported that Children’s Health Defense played a key role in pushing back on Covid vaccines and helped elevate Kennedy’s profile. The nonprofit’s most recent publicly available tax documents show that it raised just over $6 million in 2020, the year the Covid pandemic started, more than double what it raised a year earlier.

The organization sent CNBC its tax documents from 2021, which show the group raised just over $15 million that year. It went into 2022 with over $11 million in assets. The documents don’t name the group’s donors.

Federal Election Commission records show that Gorton donated $500,000 last year to a super PAC that was then called the People Pharma’s Movement and run by other Kennedy allies. That PAC rebranded as American Values 2024 and has spent over $200,000 in print ads backing Kennedy’s candidacy, according to FEC records.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Discrimination in Kidney Transplants

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities.   A number of posts have provided details on discrimination in organ transplantation.

Brittany N. Hand and colleagues have an article at JAMA Surgery titled "Comparing Kidney Transplant Rates and Outcomes Among Adults With and Without Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities."

Key Points

Question How do rates of kidney transplant and transplant outcomes differ for adults with vs adults without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)? [see 2/16/23 post]

Findings In this cohort study, adults with IDD were 54% less likely to be evaluated for and 62% less likely to receive a kidney transplant than adults without IDD. However, among those who received a kidney transplant, postoperative outcomes were similar for adults with and without IDD.

Meaning These data suggest the IDD should not categorically disqualify adults from transplant and underscore the urgent need for antidiscrimination initiatives to promote the receipt of equitable care for this population.

Importance Improving equity in organ transplant access for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is a topic of social discourse in mainstream media, state legislation, and national legislation. However, few studies have compared evaluation rates, transplant rates, and outcomes among adults with and without IDD.

Objective To compare rates of kidney transplant and transplant-specific outcomes between propensity–score matched groups of adults with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD [also referred to as end-stage renal disease (ESRD)]) with and without co-occurring IDD.

Design, Setting, and Participants This retrospective cohort study included all Medicare inpatient and outpatient standard analytical files from 2013 through 2020. A total of 1 413 655 adult Medicare beneficiaries with ESKD were identified. Propensity–score matching was used to balance cohorts based on age, sex, race, follow-up duration, and Charlson Comorbidity Index. The matched cohorts consisted of 21 384 adults with ESKD (10 692 of whom had IDD) and 1258 kidney transplant recipients (629 of whom had IDD). Data were analyzed between June 1, 2022, and August 1, 2022.

Exposure IDD.

Main Outcomes and Measures Evaluation for kidney transplant, receipt of kidney transplant, perioperative complications, readmission, mortality, graft rejection, and graft failure.

Results Of the 21 384 propensity–score matched adults with ESKD, the median (IQR) age was 55 (43-65) years, 39.2% were male, 27.4% were Black, 64.1% were White, and 8.5% identified as another race or ethnicity. After propensity score matching within the ESKD cohort, 633 patients with IDD (5.9%) received a kidney transplant compared with 1367 of adults without IDD (12.8%). Adults with IDD were 54% less likely than matched peers without IDD to be evaluated for transplant (odds ratio, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.43-0.50) and 62% less likely to receive a kidney transplant (odds ratio, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.34-0.42). Among matched cohorts of kidney transplant recipients, rates of perioperative complications, readmission, and graft failure were similar for adults with and without IDD.

Conclusions and Relevance Using the largest cohort of adult kidney transplant recipients with IDD to date, the study team found that rates of evaluation and transplant were lower despite yielding equivalent outcomes. These data support consideration of adults with IDD for kidney transplant and underscore the urgent need for antidiscrimination initiatives to promote the receipt of equitable care for this population.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Republican Views of MMR

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be measles and COVID-19.

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.   Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures. 

Cary Funk and colleagues at Pew:
Americans’ support for school-based requirements for MMR vaccination has fallen since prior to the coronavirus outbreak

A smaller majority of Republicans and independents who lean to the GOP (57%) now favor requiring MMR vaccination for children to attend public school, while 42% say, instead, that parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children, even if it may create health risks for others. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the balance of opinion among Republicans favored childhood vaccine requirements (79% vs. 20%).

Democrats’ broad support for vaccine requirements has held steady over the last four years: 85% support school-based vaccine requirements, roughly the same as in 2019 (86%).

As a result of changing views among Republicans, support for requiring childhood vaccines among the general public now stands at 70%, down from 82% when last asked in 2019. The shift among Republicans’ views is in line with a December 2022 KFF update of these Pew Research Center trends.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

An Autism Peer Group

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the autism spectrum

Mariyam Syed writes at The Courier (College of DuPage, IL):
Beginning college can be particularly challenging for students with autism and other disabilities. For three current students with autism, finding a strong support system of peers and counselors, as well as academic accommodations, was important to achieve their goals and overcome stereotypes.

Sophomore student, Robert “Bobby” Henry, described himself as a very social person, who enjoys interacting with his peers as the president of Autismerica and a past leader in the New Student Orientation. Autismerica is a social club that serves students on the autism spectrum. Monthly meetings provide space to socialize and enjoy activities in a welcoming environment.

“Once you join, there’s a sense of joy that you belong to a group, a community of people,” Henry said. “When I’m around people who have the same disability as me, like being around PD (Pedro Gamez), it’s really helpful. I think we understand and trust each other. I’m so thankful that I have PD Gamez as my vice president; he’s really helpful and supportive of me.”

Gamez is vice president of Autismerica, which he has been part of since the fall of 2021. As the club officers, Gamez and Henry schedule the meeting activities and make sure new students feel welcome. Henry enjoys designing posters to promote Autismerica events.
One punctual attendee is Samuel Philippian, a sophomore pursuing environmental science, who rarely misses the Autismerica meetings.

“When I’m there, I just kind of feel free, and it helps to destress,” Philippian said. “We have a range of activities, Jenga bricks outside and indoors video games, and different board games. I’ve also gotten to show my friends digital artwork I’ve made in my free time for fun.”

Monday, May 15, 2023

Landmark College

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Many posts have discussed programs to provide them with training and experience.