ASD Faculty Resources
What is Autism?
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication.
- Many individuals with Autism demonstrate Executive Functioning (EF) deficits, which impact organization, time management, task initiation, inhibition, and emotional regulation.
- Not all students with Autism are the same. They all present with unique strengths and challenges.
- Approximately 2% of college students in the United States report as having Autism.
During the 2016-17 academic year, 69 students at Purchase College selfidentified to the Office of Disability
Resources as a student with ASD.
- Statistics suggest that these rates will continue to rise, which is why it is critical to know how to most effectively work with this population.
Some Things You May Notice…
- May exhibit awkward eye contact, posture, &/or gestures
- Difficulty with changes in classroom, seating, & syllabi
- Sensory sensitivity (lights, sounds, touch, smells)
- May have delayed verbal or written responses
- May misunderstand tone of voice, jokes, facial expressions, sarcasm, & other subtle messages
- May become easily overwhelmed
- May come across as argumentative, rude, or monopolizing class discussion
- Displays literal & concrete thinking patterns
- May use calming or focusing “self-stimming” strategies such as rocking, tapping, or pacing
- Oddities in vocal pitch, volume intonation
- May be easily distracted, particularly in long classes
- Strong, narrow interests
- Above average to superior intellect
- Passionate commitment to ideas
- Strong sense of equality & justice
- Exceptional talents in one specific area
- Diligent with routine work & excellent memory
- Strong pursuit of knowledge within areas of interest
- Good visual & spatial learners
- Original ways of solving problems
- Initiating/sustaining effort
- Setting boundaries
- Working in groups
- Initiating, planning, organizing, & carrying out tasks
- Seeing others’ points of views
- Understanding social rules
- Assessing priorities & performance
- Asking for clarification or assistance
Interpreting vague instructions
Abstract concepts & seeing the ‘big picture’
- Provide direct feedback, set clear boundaries
- Allow breaks during class
- Avoid cold-calling in class
- Avoid idioms, metaphors, sarcasm
- Consider assigning group roles
- Provide visual learning tools and examples when possible (pictures, charts, etc.)
- Supplement oral instructions with written instructions
- Explain the purpose of an assignment
- Utilize syllabus & note any changes as soon as possible
Available at the Purchase College Library:
- Zager, D., Alpern,C., McKeon, B., Maxam, S., & Mulvey, J. (2013). Educating college students with autism spectrum disorders. Routledge: NY.
- Oslund, C. (2014). Supporting college and university students with invisible disabilities. Christy Oslund: Philadelphia, PA.