Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Free at Last! Now What? A Forum on College Life with Autism


For my third discussion, I wanted to talk about the issue of college, which is an important issue for autistic people.  This will involve, preparing for, attending, and exploring colleges as an autistic person.  As with last week’s discussion, do consider a few things: 1) this forum is not to demean or belittle any individual participating in it, 2) that through this discussion, I hope to learn what sort of struggles and challenges are experienced by people on the spectrum, so we can design better behavioral and educational interventions for autistic people later in life, and to know what autistic people as a whole, do not need help with, and what therapies and interventions are doing right.  If not, we hope you as the readers gain valuable insights into your love life or that of those close to you, but let them all speak for themselves, as their impression may be entirely different from yours, 3) if you not to feel comfortable sharing your name, that is fine, and if you do not want your personal information to be shared without a need-to-know basis (should that be an issue) please mention that at the beginning of your comment.  If sharing your name could create negative consequences or trouble in the life of you or others do not share it, and 4) that bashful and abusive comments are not welcomed and any will be deleted.  Also do not share any information that is too personal (e.g. sex life) using you’re the names or identifying information of yourself or others involved.  5) Remember that everyone may have different views and on all these forums we are not looking for right answers, but to know what you as an autistic person and their loved ones think, 6) If the question is not relevant, feel free to leave it blank; these questions are merely to help each person format their comments.  With that said, here are my questions:

1.       What is your age? 18-24? 24-30?

2.       What is your gender?

3.       How long has it been since you attended college?  How much of the time since then has been in college?

4.       What options have you explored before making a decision on colleges or are you exploring now to help influence your decision?  What factors have influenced that decision?

5.       When and how in life did you get diagnosed as autistic?

6.       Where do you live outside of college?

7.       Where do you live while attending college?

8.       Do you commute or live on campus property?

9.       Tell us about your college town.  Is it a big city, small town?  Are you out of the country, studying abroad, a foreign-exchange student, etc.?

10.   What type of residence do you live in during college (dorm buildings, apartment, Greek housing, off-campus)?

11.   Do you work while you are on campus, whether in your home town or near campus?

12.   Do you have any dependents while you attend college, fiancée, spouse, children?  Where do they live?  How has that affected your college career?

13.   What kind of educational, professional, or independent living experiences have you had prior to your current college career?  How have they affected your current college career?

14.   How, in any way, do you feel autism has affected your college experience?

15.   What supports, if any, have you had prior to your college experience?  How were they provided to you –the state, parents, family members?

16.   What other conditions to you have besides autism?  How have they been accommodated in the past and through what sources?  What kinds of supports do you use, find helpful, or have available on your campus or in your area?  When and how in your life did you receive the diagnosis for these conditions?

17.   How would you describe your expenses in college?  What, if anything comes to mind?

18.   What type of academic program or major are you enrolled in (e.g. nursing, education, social work, undecided)?  Do you have any other type of academic commitment, such as a minor?

19.   Where do you feel you can go to get help with things related to your condition on campus or in your area?

20.   How easy do you feel it is to keep up with the pace of college life?  Is it too fast?  Slow enough?  How do you deal with it?

21.   What sacrifices have been made or have had to been made to attend college life?

22.   Have you been involved with a person romantically before college?  How has college affected that relationship?  What impact have they had on you as an autistic in college and as an autistic person, college student, and person in general?  Have you found new love (boy/girlfriend, fiancée, spouse) in college?  What impact have they had on you as an autistic in college and as an autistic person, college student, and person in general? 

23.   What type of social networks or supports exists for people with autism on campus or in your area?

24.   Have you found many friendships or close relationships at college?

25.   Where do you go to meet people (friends, potential dates, etc.)?

26.   Have you joined many clubs, societies, or social organizations (e.g. fraternities/sororities, religious organizations, community service outreach programs, etc.)?  How has that affected your college life and experience as an autistic person?

27.   How easy do you find it to start on school projects?

28.   Do any of your friends, professors, Greek brothers/sisters, co-parishioners, Community Advisors, Residence Hall Directors, or anyone you associate with on a regular basis know about your condition?  Have you told them?  How well do you think any of these possible people understand your condition?  How open are you about your condition?  How might your acquaintances find out?  What is there to be gained from disclosing your condition more?  Less?  Differently?  How do they affect your college life and experience as an autistic person?

29.   What is your favorite or most enjoyable part of college life (academically)?

30.   What is your favorite or most enjoyable part of college life (socially)?

31.   What is the hardest or least enjoyable part of college life (academically)?

32.   What is the hardest or least enjoyable part of college life (socially)?

33.   Have you been in a committed relationship before college?  How did college affect it?

34.   What are you most proud of in college?  Is there anything looking back that you wish you could have done differently?

35.   Have any major events in your life made it harder or easier to attend college (death in the family, new marriage, new job, etc.)?

36.   What makes you want to persevere in your college career?

37.   What, if anything, ever makes you tempted to give up on college?

38.   How have you changed in any way since college, whether personally, socially, emotionally, professionally?

39.   What do you feel you have gained from college, in both your life in general and as an autistic person?

40.   What more do you hope to gain from college, both in your life in general and as an autistic person?

41.   Is your experience in college what you’ve planned?  What do you wish, if anything, you had been able to do differently?

42.   Where do you hope in life to go and achieve after college?  How do you believe college is helping you with or influenced that?

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