The Autistic Self Advocacy Network recently published a research paper outlining how colleges can best help autistic students. As an autistic student myself, I decided to see how well USG is doing.
Let’s look at ASAN’s guidelines:
Show that you think disability is important.
Colleges can say they accept autistic people until their mouths go numb, but if nobody implements initiatives to help disabled students or funds the programs we need, then it’s just empty words.
USG offers plenty of services that help all students (workshops for study skills, the Center for Counseling and Consultation), and since those services also help autistic students, I’d call it a win.
Make spaces in college that autistic students can feel welcome to use.
I’ve been a virtual student since I got to USG (yay COVID), so I can’t speak for the accessibility of the campus. However, Zeta Sigma Disability Honor Society and the various USG services have been blessings, even virtual.
Provide appropriate accommodations.
This is trickier at USG, since students have to go through our home institutions to get accommodations. Fortunately, our DSS office collaborates with those home universities so us USG students are taken care of.
Give autistic students the chance to make friends.
USG has loads of clubs, and students can even start their own. It would be nice if clubs had their own page on the USG website, rather than being divided by major, so they’d be easier to find.
Make a place to learn about accommodations.
Thank you, Center for Academic Success.
Make sure autistic students can get what they need to be at college.
Getting support from colleges (tutoring, counseling, resume reviews) shouldn’t cost extra money. USG is fantastic for this; the writing center, counseling center, and career center are all free.
Different college groups should work together.
Intersectionality is so important! Zeta Sigma is always happy to team up with clubs for LGBTQ+ students, groups for students of color, and others. Allies rule, so please feel free to reach out!
Improve services to help autistic students.
Whatever USG does not have in place to help autistic students be independent, let’s do it!
Make sure all autistic people feel welcome.
A lot of autistic people get left out, and it’s important to make sure all autistic students feel welcome, including autistic students of color and nonspeaking students. (I am neither of those things, so I can’t judge how well USG does this, but I’m optimistic.)
Make sure to talk to autistic students.
Nothing about us without us!
Overall, I give USG a A- for autism acceptance, which is amazing. If you want to see USG make it to A+, share your ideas in the comments. And, if you want to see how you can support the autistic community, tune in to Zeta Sigma’s Autism Acceptance Month panel on April 22nd from 12-1 pm. I’ll see you there!