March 22, 2011

Speaking engagements can be a grab-bag of sorts, where the speaker hopes the outcome is worth the effort invested.

Sometimes, honestly, it isn't.

I've given talks about the most effective ways to instruct and support students with ASD on lots of university campuses, and on occasion I encounter an audience that just doesn't get it. Folks listening to the presentation either don't believe me, or they think what I'm describing can't be done in a typical university setting. The possibilities are so far outside the culture of the college that what I'm talking about seems like science fiction.

That's not Shawnee State University!

Administrators at SSU, located in Portsmouth, Ohio, realized they have a growing number of students with ASD enrolled and living on campus. Rather than ignore the challenges, professionals there embraced the idea of learning more about how to effectively support the students.

Which is is how I ended up speaking to more than 20 professionals on campus this morning.

I was impressed with the culture I observed during my time at SSU; staff there were interested in the students living on the spectrum, and with learning the skills needed to support those students best. They seemed to appreciate diversity, and recognize that students with ASD can -- and do -- contribute to the community in which they live.

Too few colleges are this open and supportive, so I hope prospective students will contact Housing administrator Marcie Simms,740-351-3549, Counselor Linda Koenig,740-351-3213, or Disabled Student Service Coordinator Jim Weaver, 740-351-3276,  to talk about possibilities.